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Review Policies and Health Data on Children Injured in Motor Accidents and Child Car Seats in Taxis

1st Mar 2021



Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang
MP for Nee Soon GRCQuestion No. 531

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether public hospitals are now collecting public health data on the number of children injured in motor accidents as a result of not being secured in child car seats; (b) if not, why not; and (c) if so, whether the Government will use the data in the review of its policies on child car seats in taxis.

Answer Under the Road Traffic Act (RTA), a person below 1.35 metres in height should be properly secured by an approved child restraint appropriate to their height and weight, or a body restraining seat belt when seated on a booster seat cushion or when using a seat with an approved adjustable seat belt when travelling in a motor vehicle.

Over the past five years, data from the public acute hospitals showed that of the children aged 10 and below [1] who were treated at public acute hospitals for injuries due to motor vehicular accidents, about 35% reported (by patient or parents) that child car seats and/or seatbelts [2] were used. There is no data on whether or not child car seats and/or seatbelts were used for the remaining 65% of cases.  The data does not show whether the injury sustained from motor vehicle accidents was a direct result of not using child car seats and/or seatbelts.

Nonetheless, it is well established in international literature that the use of appropriate protective gear and child restraints such as car safety seats, booster seats and seat belts when travelling in motorized vehicles is potentially life-saving and reduces the risk of sustaining severe injuries.  Therefore, the government consistently recommends motorists and their passengers to use appropriate restraints at all times while riding in motor vehicles.

Taxis are exempted from the child seat rule under the RTA because they can be street-hailed, and it is not practical to expect taxis to be sufficiently equipped with child seats at all times to cater to families of different sizes and children of different ages, while providing sufficient boot space for passengers’ needs. On the other hand, private hire cars, which must be pre-booked, allow passengers to indicate if they require child seats at the point of booking. The current approach for taxis and private hire cars strikes a balance between safety and practicality.

[1] Source: Health Booklet (2002), Health Promotion Board. Based on height-for-age charts for boys and girls aged 4 to 18 years old, the median height-for-age is 1.35m for age 9 to 10 years old.

[2] Source: National Trauma Registry. Data period: 2015-2019. Data from 2020 was not considered in view that the Circuit Breaker would have impacted the number of cars on the road.

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