The laws of Trinidad and Tobago make it mandatory for drivers to properly secure infants and children, once they are traveling in a motor vehicle.
Section 43D of the Motor Vehicles And Road Traffic Act Chap. 48:50 provides as follows:
(1) The driver of a motor vehicle referred to in section 43A(1) shall:
(a) not, without reasonable excuse, drive his vehicle while there is in the front seat of the vehicle a child of five years of age and under; and
(b) ensure that a child—
– (i) under six months of age, be restrained in a properly fastened and adjusted, rearward facing child restraint;
– (ii) over six months and under four years of age, be restrained in a properly fastened and adjusted, rearward facing child restraint or a forward facing child restraint that has an in-built harness; and
– (iii) over four years and under five years of age, be restrained in a properly fastened and adjusted, forward facing child restraint that has an in-built harness or an approved booster seat that is properly positioned and fastened
The Act does not apply to taxis or public service vehicles (a motor vehicle used for carrying passengers for hire or reward, whether at separate and distinct fares for their respective places or not).
(3) Subsection (1)(b) shall not apply to the driver of a public service vehicle.
Any driver who fails to observe the law in this area is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2,000.
If a child is unable to sit in a car seat for medical reasons, the driver must provide evidence of such from a practicing doctor:
(5) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not be guilty of an offence under this section:
(a) if he proves that the child held a valid certificate signed by a medical practitioner to the effect that it is inadvisable on medical grounds for the child to be placed in a child restraint or booster seat and the certificate shall be valid for a period of not more than two years from the date of issue; or
(b) where there is only one row of seats in the vehicle.
The Association of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Companies gives guidelines on the types of restraints that may be best suited for infants and young children:
The safest car seat is one that best fits your child and your car and is easiest for you to use. However, if a car seat is not properly installed or used incorrectly, it can still present safety problems. Though most parents move their child from a rear-facing to a forward-facing position when he reaches 12 months and 20 pounds, this is the minimum age and weight requirement for facing forward. Experts say that the longer you keep your child in a rear-facing position, the safer he’ll be (that’s because, in a frontal collision, the stress on a forward-facing child’s neck can injure his spine).
The featured image used in this post is by ‘Cars.com Family’, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Cars.com Family’s flickr photostream.