The use of child car seats will become mandatory from January 2020, but the transport ministry says that enforcement of their use will not begin straight away, with drivers not being penalised for the first six months when the ruling comes into effect, The Star reports.

Transport minister Anthony Loke said that he has issued this directive to the road transport department (JPJ). “The JPJ will not issue summonses to drivers without the child car seats during this period. Instead, the drivers will be issued warnings and reminders to install the seats,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

He said it had become necessary to impose the mandatory use of child seats as a study by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS) revealed that only 30% of car drivers used them. He added that tax breaks for child seats will encourage their quicker adoption, stating that there would be no import duty for child car seats, while the excise fee has been reduced from 10% to 5%.

Previously, the ruling on the mandatory use of child seats was supposed to be introduced in 2019, but was postponed indefinitely as it was the announcement made by the previous government. It was only in October last year that Loke confirmed that child seat usage would be made mandatory by 2020.

The importance of using child seats cannot be overemphasised. We at paultan.org strongly believe that under no condition should a child (or any individual for that matter) ever be left unsecured in a moving vehicle.

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.

It’s also crucial that they be seated in the back, and not at the front. This is to position your kids away from the front airbags in case an accident happens. 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.

Of course, never hold your child on your lap when sitting in front, or worse, when driving. Your arms alone won’t be enough in restraining your child in a collision, plus you would also be subjecting them to the full force of the deploying airbag. This could potentially cause the child a broken neck, a fractured skull and other severe injuries. Lest you forget, you too, will be in harm’s way.

There’s no guarantee that using a child seat will save a child’s life in the event of an accident, but the chances of survival are immensely higher, that’s for sure.