MP Louis Ng suggests Govt provide 2 child booster seats for each taxi and private-hire car to enhance safety
SINGAPORE — As child booster seats are proven to help save lives, one Member of Parliament (MP) suggested on Tuesday (May 11) that the Government give out two of such devices to each taxi and private-hire vehicle in Singapore. Mr Louis Ng, a Nee Soon Group Representative Constituency (GRC) MP, also argued for the removal of an exception to the Road Traffic Act that was made a few decades ago, in order to make it mandatory for children to sit in child car seats when riding in taxis.
- Two booster seats should be given to each taxi and private-hire vehicle, MP Louis Ng said
- It should eventually be made mandatory for children to be in such seats while riding in taxis, he added
- The idea, which could cost S$15 million, was mooted at the close of a parliamentary sitting
- In response, MP Baey Yam Keng said the issue was about whether parents would use them if they were made available
SINGAPORE — As child booster seats are proven to help save lives, one Member of Parliament (MP) suggested on Tuesday (May 11) that the Government give out two of such devices to each taxi and private-hire vehicle in Singapore.
Mr Louis Ng, a Nee Soon Group Representative Constituency (GRC) MP, also argued for the authorities to consider removing an exception to the Road Traffic Act that was made a few decades ago, in order to make it mandatory for children to sit in child car seats when riding in taxis.
Speaking in an adjournment motion at the end of Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting, Mr Ng said: “Child car-seat technology has improved drastically since then. What was safe is now even safer, and what was impractical is now practical. Our laws and policies must keep up.”
The Road Traffic Act presently requires anyone under 1.35m in height and who want to travel in a motor vehicle to be secured by an approved safety restraint appropriate for the person’s height and weight, such as a child car seat. This requirement applies to private-hire vehicles as well.
However, taxis are exempt from this law, even though such booster seats are “extremely effective at protecting children”, Mr Ng noted.
Speaking to TODAY, Mr Ng said that he had hoped for his proposal to be adopted first, and for the authorities to study how these seats are used before considering to make it mandatory.
In his motion, he referred to a study by the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital that found that children not secured by booster seats were 8.4 times more likely to be seriously injured in a road accident compared with those who were.
“I respect our taxi drivers, but they aren’t immune to something going wrong,” Mr Ng said.
He described meeting a young mother whose daughter was flung from her arm when a lorry crashed into the taxi they boarded.
“She shared with me that she always thought she could hold on to her child if an accident like that happened,” he said, adding that the children were not injured seriously but suffered from mental trauma from the accident.
Giving away car seats to all taxis and private-hire vehicles has several benefits, he argued.
If implemented, parents with more than one child will not need to lug multiple car seats with them if they wish to ride in a taxi, and this would also cost less for families. A booking through ride-hailing application Grab such as GrabFamily, which provides child car seats, typically costs more than a typical ride, Mr Ng said.
There could also be fewer conflicts between drivers and passengers who have young children, he added, describing how private-hire car drivers often had to turn passengers with young children away because of the lack of booster seats.
“My proposal makes this a non-issue.”
Then, pointing to samples of child car seats that he brought to the House, the MP said that they barely take up boot space nowadays, and can be set up quickly in a minute and 16 seconds.
“This is faster than helping a passenger in a wheelchair to board a taxi and not much longer than helping passengers with many bags arrange them in the boot,” he said.
Based on a quotation he has received, Mr Ng calculated that the proposal to give out two car seats would cost around S$15 million, which is similar to the amount of grants and incentives that went to reduce the dangers from personal mobility devices or e-scooters.
In 2008, when a boy was flung out of a school bus in a road accident, more than S$35 million was spent to install seat belts in small buses, he noted.
Mr Ng also proposed an awareness campaign to help parents understand the critical importance of using child car seats, as well as working with hospitals to advocate their use.
“We must build a culture where child car seats are always used. Not just sometimes, not just occasionally, but always.”
PARENTS WANT TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES
Responding to Mr Ng’s motion, Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, said that public and industry feedback on mandating the use of such child restraints and booster seats in taxis were split “right down the middle”.
“Some parents thought that they themselves are fundamentally responsible for their child's safety and should be able to decide whether to take along and use child restraints and booster seats,” Mr Baey said, adding that there were concerns about hygiene and reduced carrying capacity.
He also explained that the exemption for taxis came about because of practical challenges.
Then, there were concerns that bulky car seats would take up significant boot space, and the time needed to install and remove them posed challenges for taxis.
Last year, SMRT Taxis conducted a booster seat trial in which around 1,700 taxis were fitted with a single booster seat each.
“Although SMRT’s booster seats were provided at no extra cost to the passengers, the take-up rate was still low.
“The issue is not just about the provision of child restraints and booster seats, but also how to raise awareness and ensure that parents use the child restraints and booster seats when they are provided.”
Mr Baey said in conclusion that there is a “workable equilibrium” today for parents to book the right type of trips so that they may ride with their children without breaking the law.
“We will look into viable business and operational models. They can provide options for those who need child restraints and booster seats while balancing diverse needs by different families,” Mr Baey added.
Related topicschild car seat taxi road safety public transport private hire car Louis Ng
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