With the use of child car seats becoming mandatory as of January, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) has advised parents to purchase suitable child seats or child restraint systems (CRS), and this means doing a bit of research into finding the right device, The Star reports.

Its director-general Dr Siti Zaharah Ishak said that according to the guidelines, every child below the height of 135cm (or approximately below 12 years old) should use a CRS, and a suitable unit should correspond to the height and weight of the child.

Based on ECE R44/04 or R129 standards, the guidelines specify four different types of seats – from birth up to 13 kg (Group 1, up to a height of 83 cm, approximately zero to 18 months), 9-18 kg (Group 2, 71 cm and above, approximately 15 months to four years), 15–25 kg (Group 2, 100 cm and above, approximately four to seven years) and 22-36 kg (Group 3, up to 135 cm, approximately six to 12 years).

She said that a correctly installed CRS may help to reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and by 54% for children aged one to four years old, and reduce the need for hospitalisation by 69% for children aged four years old and below, and reiterated the importance of parents utilising these devices for their children. Based on recent observations during Ops Hari Raya 2019, MIROS found that only 33% of children were placed in a car seat.

“The seat can reduce the risk of injury or being thrown out of the car or hitting the hard object in the car during harsh braking or collision. Seat belts are a proven intervention to reduce the risk of fatalities during road accidents for adults. However, it is not designed to protect a child, ” she explained.

The transport ministry has said that enforcement of the use of CRS will not begin straight away, with drivers not being penalised for the first six months when the ruling comes into effect. “We want the people to really know and understand that the CRS is for safety. That is why the soft-landing approach is taken for the first phase of the implementation. This is like an educational or advocacy stage before the enforcement phase takes effect,” transport minister Anthony Loke said last week.

Meanwhile, the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry (KPDNHEP) says it will closely monitor the online sale of CRS to ensure these items comply with the stipulated standards. Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the ministry will ensure that the issue of fake and unsafe goods being sold does not crop up.

“The guideline on the characteristics for child restraint seats has already been issued, and we will conduct enforcement in line with the conditions stipulated by MIROS, namely, product safety standard and trademarks, whether false or genuine. And if an outlet advertises (its products), we will ensure what is advertised are available on the products sold,” he said.