The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has issued warning letters to 577 owners of privately-owned vehicles who have been driving around with their children without using a proper child restraint system (CRS), Bernama reports. This use of child seats has been mandated by deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who in October last year said the use of child seat will be compulsory by 2020.
The advocacy notices issued are not to be confused with summonses, though. Transport minister Anthony Loke said enforcement will begin once the rule comes into play, but drivers won’t be monetarily penalised for the first six months. In other words, fines will only be issued beginning July 1, 2020.
Although no summonses will be issued for the first six months, Loke said the notice purely serves as a reminder for parents. “It is only an advocacy notice, not summons. If there is any summons, please indicate. We did not expect it to be easy to get full cooperation or compliance in introducing a new law,” he told reporters in Putrajaya recently, adding that it takes time for parents to understand the necessity of using a CRS.
As big advocates of using child seats, allow us to help you get acquainted with the rules, if you’re not already. Kids who weigh under 25 kg (weight is a more accurate measure than age) must be placed in a child seat (Group 0+, 1 and 2, fitted in a rear-facing position for as long a period as possible), and those under 36 kg should be secured with seat belts, together with either a booster seat or booster cushion (Group 3). These are absolute necessities, not optional.
Also keep in mind that it’s crucial for the children to be seated in the back, and not at the front. This is to position your kids away from the front airbags in case it deploys in an accident. You should only ever place a child seat or booster seat in the front if your car has a front passenger airbag off switch (not all cars come with this feature), but treat this as your last resort.
Based on a study by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS), Loke said only 30% of drivers actually bothered using a child seat. There’s currently no import duty imposed on the sale of a CRS, plus excise fee has been dropped from 10% to 5%. Loke hopes the move will incentivise parents to purchase one for the good of their children, considering that 1,559 deaths involving children under the age of 10 have been recorded between 2007 to 2017.