A few days ago, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) became a hot topic on social media because of some vehicle safety guidelines they announced. For one, the agency said drivers of private vehicles must wear face masks and coverings inside the car even if they are alone. Next, they announced that, in compliance with the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, children 12 years old and below are required to use car seats of car restraint systems (CRS).
In addition, those who are below 4’11” in height are not allowed to sit in the front seat. “Child restraints in cars are intended to keep a child firmly secured in their seats so that in case of sudden braking or collision, the child would not be fatally thrown away against the car interior or ejected from the vehicle,” said LTO Spokesperson Robert Valera. (Read: Biking 101: Traffic Rules and Etiquette for New Bikers)
Netizens reacted negatively toward these guidelines, saying that there was no chance of infecting anyone if you’re alone in the car, and that not all children fit in car seats and CRS. Their annoyance was further fueled when LTO National Capital Region (NCR) director Clarence Guinto was quoted to have said “laki-lakihan mo ang sasakyan mo” when asked how the new rules will apply to taller children.
LTO NCR Dir Clarence Guinto apologizes for his remark “laki-lakihan mo sasakyan mo” re the child car seat issue during his interview on DZMM Teleradyo: pic.twitter.com/UzWl3To2a9
— Jacque Manabat (@jacquemanabat) February 1, 2021
After thousands have commented on his rather insensitive comment, Guinto issued a public apology for the misunderstanding. “I realize now that it was inappropriate,” he said.
Guinto then went on and clarified that children above 4’11” are exempted from using CRS and may sit in the front seat using a regular seatbelt.
As for wearing masks inside the car for drivers with no passengers, co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that it wasn’t required.
“I think that is only logical; if there is no one in the vehicle with you, you cannot infect anyone else,” Nograles said. He added that based on a Department of Health (DOH) advisory, individuals alone in a car may remove their face masks while inside the vehicle.
Traffic Health Protocol
The LTO said that those who are not wearing masks inside their vehicles will not be apprehended and won’t be made to pay any fine. (Read: 3 Financial Habits to Instill in Your Children)
“Pero pansamantala po kung kayo ay masisita hindi naman pagmumultahin agad o whatever. Ipaliliwanag lang ang kahalagahan ng pag-observe ng protocol,” said chief Transportation Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante.
The same goes for those who will be caught not using car seats and CRS for their children. According to Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran, there will be at least a six-month grace period for the conduct of information, education, and communications (IEC) campaign regarding the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.