Thailand’s Transport Ministry has finally made it compulsory for children under six to be secured in child car seats or booster seats as of September 5th, 2022.
The new law was announced in the Royal Gazette and is being made compulsory under the Land Traffic Act.
Children under the age of six must be restrained in a child car seat or a special booster seat for safety in moving vehicles. This is according to Section 123 of the law.
More details will be issued as per the specific regulations issued by the national police chief.
Children who cannot be fastened to a seat due to health or physical factors are exempt from the law. Mainly children in wheelchairs.
Nikorn Chamnog, deputy chairman of the House committee that examined changes to the Land Traffic Act, pointed out that car seats are expensive.
Child Car seats expensive
Most retail for more than 18,000 baht a piece. As a result, the amended law will permit the use of booster seat cushions priced at 600-700 baht each.
The cushion allows the passenger to sit high enough to be restrained effectively, according to Mr. Nikorn, who is also chairman of the World Health Organization’s Asia-Pacific Regional Network on Road Safety.
However, child safety advocates say allowing booster cushions instead of car seats takes away any real safety for the children the law was supposed to create.
Child safety advocates recommend keeping children in 5-point harnessed car seats for toddlers until they are at least 4 years old and 40 lbs or more.
A child booster seat can only protect children if they hold an adult’s seatbelt properly in place, according to child safety advocates. The seat belt often slips out of position in booster seats because younger children are less mature and can’t sit still in a booster seat. Toddler car seats should be used whenever possible.
Booster seats can be more dangerous than car seats
Children may also be irritated by the seat belt in a poorly fitting booster, causing them to try to put the shoulder portion of the belt behind them.
If they are in even a minor crash, they will effectively be wearing only a lap-only belt, which can cause serious injuries. Children in booster seats too young can also be a distraction to drivers, putting everyone in the vehicle at risk.
A House committee investigated the mandatory adoption of car seats in the Philippines and Malaysia and found the requirement proved complicated and difficult at first because of the high cost of child car seats.
During the early phase of enforcement after Sept 5, Mr. Nikorn stated that motorists will need time to adjust, so police should be more lenient in terms of compliance and issue warnings before taking more aggressive measures.
In addition, a campaign should be launched to educate people about child car seats and the steps they need to take to protect their children.
Furthermore, Nikorn argued that the government should consider lowering the import tax for child car seats as well as promoting local production of them.