Starting on Aug. 1, parents with children aged four to 12 will face a penalty if the children do not wear seatbelts while sitting in the backseats of cars, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
Drivers flouting the regulation will be fined NT$1,500 if driving on ordinary roads and NT$3,000 to NT$6,000 if driving on freeways or expressways, the ministry added.
The amendment to Article 31 of the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例), which was passed by the legislature in August last year, requires all car passengers to buckle up when sitting in the backseat.
The government began enforcing the amendment on Feb. 1, but adults were given a six-month grace period before the penalties went into effect.
For passengers aged four to 12, the government decided to extend the grace period by a further six months.
Hsieh Chao-i (謝潮儀), executive secretary of the ministry’s Road Traffic Safety Committee, said research showed that passengers who do not fasten their seatbelts are 3.6 times more likely to die in traffic accidents than those who do.
Passengers sitting in the backseat without seatbelts are 2.7 times more likely to get killed than those who buckle up, Hsieh added.
Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation Chairman Lin Jih-jia (林志嘉) said the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published an investigative report showing that the fatality rate for child passengers could be reduced by 70 percent if children’s safety seats are used correctly.
Infants who do not sit in children’s safety seats are eight times more likely to be injured than those who do. Countries such as New Zealand and the UK have passed similar legislation to protect child passengers.
Lin said the number of infants born in the first quarter of this year has increased by 17 percent compared with the same time last year, and the birth rate is expected to exceed 9 percent in the Year of the Dragon. As traffic accidents remain the main cause of death for children under the age of 14, Lin said that the seatbelt requirement is designed to protect the future generation.
The nation has already required children under the age of four to be placed in infant car seats since 2004.
The new seatbelt requirement applies to child passengers aged four to 12, or those weighing between 18kg and 36kg. Parents need to purchase booster seats if the seatbelt strap rubs against a child passenger’s neck.