The Malta Independent 24 January 2020, Friday

New vehicle regulations come into force - children cannot be strapped in using adult seat belt

Duncan Barry Tuesday, 28 October 2014, 08:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

‘Young children’ cannot be transported in rearward restraint car seat fitted in front seat unless airbag is deactivated. ‘Young children’ cannot be strapped in using adult seat belt. Up to eight passenger vehicles must have safety system in place to diminish risk of injury

A number of new regulations have come into force following amendments made to the Malta Transport Authority Act, one of the regulations being that a young child can only be transported in a restraining system (that is a child car seat or booster seat) placed in the front seat but facing the rear if the airbags have been deactivated.

This newsroom had asked the traffic section of the Police Force a month ago whether Smart cars, which have become a common sight on Maltese roads and which have no back seats, could place a child in the front seat, obviously in a child car seat or booster seat.

The reply given by the section was that as things stood, a child could be placed on the front seat, as long as a child seat was installed in the vehicle, since such vehicles do not have back seats.

It was common knowledge though, that although renowned to be small in size but big on safety, owners of Smart cars for instance, should best deactivate the airbags in a bid to safeguard the child in the event of an accident occurring and the airbags are activated. But the new amendments specify that owners of all M1, N1, N2 and N3 vehicles, who carry children in the front of the vehicle but facing the rear, not the front, must deactivate the airbags to do so.

Most of the new regulations apply to M1, N1, N2 and N3 vehicles. M1 refers to vehicles taking up to eight passengers excluding the driver.

N1 refers to the category of vehicles having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes which purpose is to carry goods.

According to the recently enacted law, an M1 has to be fitted with a safety system, meaning any seat belt or child restraint system must be designed to diminish the risk of injury to its wearer in the event of a collision. 

N2 is a vehicle having a maximum mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes which is used to carry goods, while N3 means a motor vehicle exceeding 12 tonnes which is also used to carry goods.

The purpose of the regulations is to implement the provisions of the Commission Implementing Directive related to the compulsory use of safety belts and child restraint systems in vehicles.

The new definition of a child restraint system means a device combining a seat, fixed to the structure of the vehicle, which has at least one anchorage point located on the seat structure carrying a UN 'E' mark or 'BS' kitemark and which conforms with the UN/ECE regulation 44/03 of Directive 77/five41/EEC or UN/ECE Regulation 129.

Child restraint systems are subdivided into two categories: The first category is an integral class comprising a combination of straps or flexible components with a securing buckle, adjusting device and in some cases a supplementary chair, while the second category is a non integral class that may comprise a partial restraint which, when used in conjunction with an adult seat belt which passes around the body of the child, or restrains the device in which the child is placed, forms a complete child restraint system.




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