Road safety experts pan lack of fines for those who flout car seat rule

The government has said that it will continue taking education, advocacy and advisory approaches to the use of child restraint seats in private vehicles. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Two road safety experts have criticised the government’s decision not to fine those who ignore the rule on the mandatory use of child restraint seats (CRS) in private vehicles, saying it puts the protection of children at risk.

Consultant Karen Goonting and Law Teik Hua of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Road Safety Research Centre told FMT that fines must be issued to ensure that parents follow the rule.

They also suggested better education on road safety for children, and for manufacturers to make seats more affordable or even tax-free.

Goonting, a former research fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, said the use of CRS was the most effective way to protect children while on the road.

She also rejected the notion that imposing fines would make life difficult for people, saying the rule was put in place “to save lives”.

“What is more important, a few hundred ringgit or the life of your child?”

Adding that it made no sense to continue implementing the rule without imposing fines, she said: “It is like a tiger with no teeth. They are telling people to change their behaviour and use CRS, but they don’t tell you why.”

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said yesterday that the government would continue taking education, advocacy and advisory approaches to the issue.

Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, he said public transport vehicles were only encouraged to provide child seats, and that discussions would be held on lowering the price of CRS.

Goonting agreed that child seats should be provided by taxis and e-hailing vehicles but said this would depend on the cost.

“The only way for public transport vehicles to do this is if the cost of CRS is brought down,” she said.

“It is a good idea, provided that the child seats are clean because the resistance of children is not as great as that of adults.”

Law meanwhile said a lack of fines would only discourage people from using CRS in their cars.

He gave the example of seatbelts, saying less than 20% of Malaysian adults comply with the rule for these to be used.

“When people know there is no fine, they will forget about it.”

He also suggested educating parents on the different types of CRS available at different price points, and how to properly install the seats in their cars.

“People often give excuses such as not knowing where to buy a good CRS or not knowing how to use it.

“Education is key because a child seat is the best way to protect their children,” he said.