Compulsory Child Car Seats Next Year; What You Need to Know

Compulsory Child Car Seats Next Year; What You Need to Know

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has reminded Malaysians that the government will be making child car safety seats mandatory from January 2020. To facilitate this, Dr Wan Azizah also unveiled a guidebook on how the regulations will be implemented.

The guidebook, created by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), provides information about identifying and installing child restraint system (CRS) – the technical term for child seats. This new requirement is the product of a gradual introduction of improved safety regulations for keeping children safe while in motor vehicles.

As it stands, all CRS purchased must conform to the United Nations (UN) Regulation No. 44 (ECE R44/04) and Regulation No. 129 (ECE R129) as these are the only types that have received approval for use in Malaysia.

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What child car seat to buy

Identifying certified child car seats is very simple. Approved seats will be labelled with the relevant UN regulations. The example provided by the guidebook shows them as follows:

Kategori produk mengikut berat atau tinggiProduct category according to height or weight
Nombor kelulusan yang diberiApproval number
Peraturan UN R44 atau R129UN regulation R44 or R129
Negara yang meluluskan Peraturan UNUN regulation country of origin

These seats will also be labelled with a QR code that provides more information on how to use them. This code also leads to a site with instructions on how to properly install it and the recommended age and height of the child it is meant to protect.

This QR code will lead to a site with further information on: a) the UN Regulation R44 or R129 certification, b) installation instructions, and c) suitably of use according to the height and weight of the child.

Selecting a child seat

A CRS or child car seat should be chosen according to the weight and height of the child. The MIROS guidelines break these down into four groups (based on UN guidelines) divided along these lines. Age is not necessarily a factor in which seat to use as children of the same age can differ greatly in terms of size.

CategoryHeight/WeightEstimated AgeType of Seat
Group 0/0+- Weight below 9kg
- Recommended for weight below 13kg
- Height below 83cm
0-18 months
Rear facing infant car seat
Group 1- Weight between 9 and18 kg
- Minimum height 71cm
15 months to 4 yearsForward facing infant seat
Group 2- Weight between 15 and 25kg
- Minimum height 100cm
4 to 7 yearsChild booster seat with five-point harness
Group 3- Weight between 25 and 36kg
- Height up to 135cm
6 years and olderChild booster seat

Some of these categories overlap, but as a rule of thumb infants and children under the age of one year old should be using rear facing seats. This will then progress into toddler booster seats with five-point harnesses, and then eventually a regular booster seat that makes use of the vehicle’s own seat belt system.

These guidelines also remind parents to avoid installing rear facing CRS in the front passenger seat if the vehicle has an airbag system. If there is a need to place the child seat there, then it is a legal requirement that the airbag first be deactivated.

How to buy a child seat

Due to the nature of child seats, it is best to buy them in person. This is to ensure that you can check on the quality of the device, and to be able to clearly check the UN regulation compliance labels. It is an unfortunate reality that not every child seat sold on the market conforms to established safety requirements (even if some manufacturers label them correctly).

For the most part, it is recommended that parents visit a physical store – even if their intention is to buy online. This allows them to examine the sturdiness of the car seat and determine if it can be installed in their car.

There is a wide range of car seats designs out there and they are not standardized to fit all cars. In order to get started, read up on other users’ recommendations on parenting sites such as asianparent.com and motherhood.com.my or through parenting social media groups to decide on your budget and type of car seat system fits your lifestyle and budget.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) research officer Nurulhana Borhana suggest that parents check for a valid QR label sticker from Miros in addition to the UN regulation orange label, cautioning that cheap units may also illegally attach the labels.

“When it comes to safety issues, every parent should not compromise. However, not all quality CRS sets are sold at RM1,000 per unit.

“There are actually CRS sets which are in compliance with the safety standards and tests but priced as low as RM150 to RM300,” she told Bernama.

Most e-commerce merchants do not list the compliance of their products, making it difficult to gauge whether they meet UN regulations so, there is no harm in window shopping first and then looking for the same model through an e-commerce site. Here’s a basic guide on starting prices of various models available online.

Seat typeCost estimate (without discounts)
Infant car seatRM200+
Forward facing child seatRM400+
Child booster seat with five-point harnessRM300+
Child booster seatRM80+
Source: Lazada

Many young parents also consider using car seats from their siblings and close relatives whose own children have outgrown them. This can save quite a bit of money but just check to make sure the seat complies with the new regulations and is not damaged which can compromise safety.

As you can see, a car seat can become a big-ticket item to purchase but ensuring the safety of your newborn begins the first 12 months of life’s journey requires an upfront investment in a reliable car seat.

Act now

The new regulations were announced by Transport Minister Anthony Loke in 2018, and are set to be enforced in January 2020. This leaves you with less than two months to shop for and install a car seat for your child.

In all fairness, most parents are already responsible enough to be using child seats. These regulations lean more towards improving the safety standards of the equipment being sold, ensuring that the seats do everything they can to keep the little ones safe if something unfortunate happens.

It also means that parents now have a globally recognised safety standard for reference when looking up which car seats to buy. The government will also be enforcing the UN regulations on imports, which should help ensure that you won’t have to look too far to find a compliant child seat.

More information about the new child seat regulations can be downloaded from here.

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