LTO: Kids over 4'11 not required to use child car seats

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — The Land Transportation Office clarified guidelines on the use of car seats for children.

In a statement on Monday, LTO National Capital Region Chief Clarence Guinto said children taller than 4'11" may use seat belts instead of the mandated car seats.

"I am sorry for the confusion I have caused with my remark, which was made in jest. I realize now that it was inappropriate. To clarify, if the child is above 4'11, the child is exempted from using a child car seat under the law and may be secured using the regular seat belt," Guinto said.

He offered the clarification after his comment he made on a morning talk show where he was asked what could be done if a 12-year-old child was taller than 4'11".

Guinto had replied that maybe parents could get a bigger car.

In a phone call with CNN Philippines, LTO Chief Edgar Galvante said it's the parents' responsibility to make sure their children are safe.

"Kung sa palagay nila eh hindi na magaapply sa anak nila yun, nasa sa kanila na yun, loved one nila yun. Kailangan maprotektahan nila yung loved one nila," he said.

[Translation: If they believe this does not apply to their children, that's up to them. Their loved ones must be protected.]

Private car owners will have to install special seats for children by February 2 when the implementation of the law on the use of child restraint systems becomes mandatory. 

Republic Act 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duerte nearly two years ago.

Section 4 states, "It shall be unlawful for the driver of a covered vehicle not to properly secure at all times a child, in a child restraint system while the engine is running or transporting such child on any road, street or highway unless the child is at least one hundred fifty (150) centimeters or fifty-nine (59) inches in height and is properly secured using the regular seat belt."

When converted, 59 inches is 4'11".

In the event a motorist fails to comply with the law, a fine of ₱1,000 to ₱5,000 will be imposed and the driver's license shall be suspended for a period of one year for the third and succeeding offenses.

Any manufacturer, distributor, importer, retailer, and seller who would compromise the quality of the child restraint system will be punished with a fine of at least ₱50,000 but not more than ₱100,000 for each product.