MANY are hopeful that the Transport Ministry’s proposal in making it compulsory for all private cars to have child safety seats by next year is enforced strictly.
It was reported earlier that the Government would regulate and enforce the use of a child restraint system (CRS) or child safety seat in cars beginning 2020.
Consultant paediatrician and paediatric neurologist Dr Alex Khoo Peng Chuan said most child specialists supported the move.
In expressing his support for the new law, which is supposed to take effect early next year, Dr Khoo said it was a great step towards providing better safety for children.
“For safety, any child shorter than the minimum height of 145cm will require a booster or forward-facing harness seat.
“Based on most studies, these child safety seats reduce the risk of serious injuries to children by at least 45%.”
He added that for older children using a booster seat with seat belt, it cut the risk of death or serious injury approximately by half.
Paediatrician and neonatalogist Dr Cheong Hon Kin said the Government had to be holistic in its approach in making the child safety seats mandatory.
He said many families would have more than two children and often grandparents stay and travel with the family as well.
“Right now, large families with small children will not be able to fit into a single car with the additional car seats.
“They would either have to travel in two cars which will increase congestion and pollution or they will need to buy a seven- or eight-seater sports utility vehicle (SUV), which is more expensive than a regular sedan, ” he pointed out.
Dr Cheong said if the Government wanted to make it mandatory to use child safety seats, it would have to also look into other practical aspects before enforcing the new law.
He said it would be a good idea for the Government to build an affordable seven-seater SUV which could fit a big family.
“Public transport also needs to be improved, as all these are interlinked, ” he added.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke had on Oct 30 last year said the child safety seat ruling would be made compulsory by 2020.
He added that the ministry would conduct awareness programmes this year to educate the public on the importance of using child safety seats in vehicles.
Mother of two, Baljit Kaur, 38, said that with so many road accidents in the country, it was timely to implement the ruling on child safety seats.
“I have been using child safety and booster seats for my children aged four and six years.
“This not only ensures their safety, but allows me to drive in peace.
“Until they are big enough to use seat belts properly, the safety seats will remain in my car, ” she added.
Housewife N. Redika Kanarasan, 43, said the ruling on car safety seats should have been implemented earlier as it could have saved the lives of many children during road accidents.
“Once the ruling comes into effect, enforcement must be carried out regularly to check cars that have children as passengers.
“However, there is no age limit mentioned for the ruling here.
“For example in Australia, it is mandatory for parents to ensure children up to seven years old are securely strapped into their seats, ” said Redika.
Beljeet Kaur, a Malaysian who lives in Tasmania, Australia, said infant car seats were a priority, especially in developed countries.
She said in Australia, it was a must to have child safety seats in cars, and even when someone was travelling with a child using e-hailing service, a child seat was provided.
“A few years ago, a relative of mine with his five-year-old child met with a bad road accident.
“But because the child was strapped properly in the safety seat, he survived. Who knows what would have happened if the child was not secured in the child seat.
“That is why it is very important to ensure children are placed in car safety seats because during an accident, they may easily get flung out of vehicles due to their light weight, ” she said.
Beljeet said it was important that people got good quality seats, and not settle for ones that would not be able to provide the required protection.
“Each time my two grandchildren visit me, I will make sure that I get someone to place the child safety seats in my car, even if is only for a few days, ” she added.
Perak Road Safety Department director C. Vigneswaran said it would be good if the authorities together with non-governmental organisations came up with a scheme to loan child car seats to those who need it.
He said quality child safety seats were expensive and not everyone could afford to buy one.
Vigneswaran said previously Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM), had such a scheme, but it was no longer available now.
“If there are about 50 NGOs nationwide that can provide such a service, it will be great, ” he added.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said in light of child safety seats being made mandatory soon, recycling such pre-owned seats that were still in good condition was an option.
Vigneswaran said the department had organised more than 30 awareness programmes since April this year on the importance of using child safety seats.
“For the first six months of next year, we plan to have another 35 awareness programmes throughout Perak.
“There will be a grace period to create awareness before enforcement kicks in, ” he stated.
He highlighted that a study by Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research showed that with child car seats in place, the impact caused to the child during accidents was reduced up to 35%.
Other studies by seats manufacturers, he added, found the impact on children could be reduced by 80% during a road accident.
Vigneswaran advised parents to ensure the CRS set that they purchased complied with the United Nations safety standards, as only those would be allowed to be used in Malaysia.