Rapid motorization in the Philippines, including a steady rise in the number of registered passenger cars and sports utility vehicles, and a sharp increase in ‘automobiles’ being involved in road crashes in the last five years (as distinguished by the Philippine National Police from buses, trucks, jeepneys, tricycles, motorcycles, and other vehicles) indicate a need to protect children aboard passenger vehicles from crash-related injury or death.
The Philippines has national laws and policies covering four out of five major risk factors for road users, i.e. speed, seatbelt use, motorcycle helmets, and drink-driving. The use of child restraint systems is the only risk factor that has yet to be addressed by legislation, despite a 1999 law directing the Land Transportation Office to require the use of special car seats for infants if deemed necessary.
Almost two decades later, the Philippines is catching up with the global movement to promote the safety of children on the roads. The initiative of civil society organizations providing intensive legal, technical, and communication assistance to the government with the support of international organizations, as well as the timely engagement of key legislative champions as sponsors of bills, have been instrumental in moving the policy advocacy forward.
In September 2017, the House of Representatives committee on transportation approved a bill requiring the use of child restraints in all privately-owned motor vehicles for children ages 12 and below, while a similar bill is pending in the Senate. Both bills reference UN Regulation 44 and 129 as standards for the approval of child restraints. Meanwhile, at the local level, Quezon City is set to be the first local government unit to require the mandatory use of child restraints within its territorial jurisdiction through its comprehensive ‘Road Safety Code,’ which was approved in October 2017.