Studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States have found that “children who are unrestrained by a child car seat are three times more likely to sustain injury in a crash compared to appropriately restrained children.” Furthermore, while parents who secure their children in their child seats think that everything is well and good, the study also found that “children traveling in inappropriate restraints for their size are also twice at risk of injury.”
Locally, the use of child restraint systems in cars have never been compulsory till now. Since its announcement by Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke last year, the ministry has been conducting awareness programmes throughout 2019 for public education before the mandatory requirement on 1st January 2020.
As an official guide to the new mandate, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) has developed and released the Buku Garis Panduan Kerusi Keselamatan Kanak-Kanak di Malaysia (Child Restraint System Guideline in Malaysia). In this article, we will cover the requirements stated in the guidebook, as well as detail the important things to note when selecting a Child Restraint System (CRS) seat for your child.
Certified and Approved Child Restraint System Labels
Malaysia’s membership to the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) and signing of the 1958 Agreement – requires the certification process for each approval of technical standards on products or automotive systems.
Hence, under the contracting state of WP.29, Malaysia has the obligation to proclaim the UN Rules into the national legislation namely the Motor Vehicles Rule (construction and use) 1959 under the Malaysian Road Transport Act 1987.
There are two approved child restraint systems under the UN Regulation.
- UN Regulation No. 44
These CRS systems are classified into five weight groups. For children up to 13 kg, the CRS are rearward facing. For groups up to 18 kg, these CRS systems have integrated harness system or impact shield that uses the passenger 3-point seat belt. Heavier children up to 36 kg will mostly use the vehicle’s safety belt for restraining.
- UN Regulation No. 129
The CRS systems under UN Regulation No. 129 are called “i-Size” systems classified according to the size of the child. Rearward facing systems are mandatory for new-borns up to 15 months old. “i-Size” CRS uses the ISOFIX anchorage points and either a top tether or a support leg for enhanced stability. These systems can be used universally on seats marked with the “i-Size” symbol. The approved label also indicates the suitable weight of the child.
As seen above, MIROS has indicated the label examples that have the UN Regulation certificate of approval from Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) through the UN Type Approval – E52.
Furthermore, MIROS will include specific QR Labels that will provide a more detailed guide on use, marketing and enforcement of the product.
Types of Child Car Seats
There are several things to note when getting a car seat for your child. While most car seats usually come with an age bracket, it is more important to know the weight and size of your child because all children are different. Additionally, do take the measurements of the seat to see if it is the right size for your car.
Rearward Facing Seats
Infants up to the age of 2 should only be seated in seats that face the rear. Seats such as these provide better protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine compared to the forward-facing types. Should you want to put your child at the front passenger seat, do ensure that your vehicle is able to deactivate the front passenger airbag for safety.
Forward Facing Seats
These seats come with harnesses that limit the child’s forward movement in the seat should there be an accident. Similarly, there are also tether straps that can be hooked to the back of the rear passenger seat. The MIROS guidebook states that most vehicles sold in Malaysia after 2015 come with ISOFIX points at the rear seats and top-tether points as standard for your child’s seat.
The purpose for booster seats is for children who have outgrown the child seat but aren’t fully able to use the seat belt yet. These seats come in ages for 4 to 12 and should go across the child’s pelvis, chest and shoulder. The lap belt should go over the pelvic region with the diagonal over the shoulder and not the neck.
MIROS Installation Guide According to Child Car Seat Type
Rearward Facing Seats
- Child Car Seats in the Group 0/0+ must be placed and installed facing the rear.
- Rearward facing seats must not be placed in the front passenger seat that has an active airbag (An active airbag is one that cannot be deactivated).
- Rearward facing seats can only be installed at the front passenger seat IF the vehicle does not have a front passenger airbag OR when it can be disabled. Refer to the vehicle manual to disable the airbag.
- A 3 point or 5-point harness has to be used for Group 0/0+ according to the type of car seat.
Forward Facing Seats
- Forward facing seats are encouraged to be placed at the rear passenger seats.
- If it is necessary to place the child seat at the front, adjust the car seat furthermost from the airbag (according to the vehicle manual).
- For Group 1 child seats, the 5-point harness that comes included with the seat must be used.
- For Group 2 child seats, it is encouraged to use a 5-point harness.
- For Group 3 child seats, the 3-point seat belt must be used together with the seat.
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