In light of recent unfortunate incidents whereby children were maimed or killed in road accidents, the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers have motioned a proposal to the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to help curb the rise of such cases. In an interview with the News Straits Times, it was disclosed that AG, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, will work with JPJ to amend the Road Transport Act 1987.

Said amendment would include an article that aims to penalise drivers who allow a child to travel sans the necessary safety restraints such as a child seat. Gani has suggested a fine similar to the ones slapped onto motorists caught driving without a seatbelt be imposed on those who neglect his/her child’s safety – currently, a fine of RM300 is issued to drivers and passengers of a vehicle caught without his/her belt buckled.

“It shouldn’t have to take a piece of legislation to make you, as parents care for the safety of your children… if you, as caring parents, use common sense, you wouldn’t risk your child being thrown out of your car,” said JPJ chief, Jaafar Mohamed. As a result, JPJ is looking into reviewing said act with the help of the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros).

In drawing up the amendment, the AG, along with Jaafar, will be looking to draw as much inspiration as possible from similar laws from other countries, with Australia pegged as a model example. The Australian Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) body indicates that children, ranging from the ages of six months to seven years, should be restrained “in a suitable and properly fastened, approved child restraint.”

Miros director-general, Professor Dr Wong Shaw Voon, highlighted the importance of employing reputable child seats in order to further safeguard a child’s safety in the unfortunate event of an accident. Securing one’s child with an adult seat belt is just as bad as it increases the chances of injuries during a crash – worst still, is the glaring number of parents who still hold their children in their laps while driving.

Most recently, an accident on the DUKE expressway saw the death of a seven month-old infant and her parents after they were flung out of their vehicle. The Malaysian Consumers Association secretary-general, Datuk Amarjit Singh Gill, commented that the infant would have survived if she was secured in a child seat.