The Malaysian Road Transport Department (JPJ) is mulling on a proposal to make the use of child seats in cars compulsory in 2017, reports The Sun.
According to the news daily, JPJ is going to propose for an amendment to the Road Transport Act 1987 to regulate the use of child restraints system (CRS), which the daily says is expected to be enforced in 2017.
The news daily also said that the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS) have been tasked to conduct a feasibility study in implementing the above.
It quoted a senior government official as saying that children aged one to four were involved in 43.8 percent of accidents, while the figure for children aged five to nine was 30.2 percent.
He also added that with proper use of child seats, road fatalities involving infants could be reduced by 70 percent.
At the same time, it was also mentioned that parents should only buy child seats from renowned brands that comply with the necessary regulation – citing a test done by MIROS involving a RM30 pocket-type child/toddler seat, which failed a crash test done at 40 km/h.
MIROS’ crash specialist Yahaya Ahmad told The Sun that parents should look out for child seats with an orange sticker label indicating its compliance to the United Nations R44 specifications, adding that 80 percent of child and toddler seats sold in the country meets this specification.
While we do applaud JPJ’s initiative, we do wonder how effective the enforcement would be.
Realistically speaking, cars in Malaysia are too expensive relative to the income of many families. Given our poor public transport infrastructure, it is a common sight to see young families holding their children on a motorcycle. A car, with or without a child seat, is already considered a step-up in terms of safety.
Also, child seats are not cheap. Car-savvy parents who have tried shopping for child seats will know how expensive a proper rear-facing ISOFIX-compatible child seat is, and how difficult it is to buy one at a regular child seat shop.
We also remember that rear seat belts have been made mandatory since 1-January 2009 but data from the Ministry of Transport show that only 7 to 9 percent of of people buckle up in the rear, due to poor enforcement.
Surely enforcing a new regulation on child seats is going to be even more challenging. Before a law on child seats is enforced, we think it is equally important to address the issue of the affordability of child seats.