KUALA LUMPUR: The use of child safety seats and seat belts for rear passengers will be made mandatory for all private cars from January next year.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the new requirement was in line with United Nations Regulation 44 (UN R44).

Under the regulation, a restraining device must be provided for children travelling in power-driven vehicles, such as a car.

He said the government had to take this step because it was a signatory to the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations.

“We have agreed to adopt one of the rules, which is UN R44,“ he said.

Child safety seats are now widely available in the market. However, Loke pointed out, the number of people who use it remained small.

“Many people are still unaware of the importance of using a child seat,“ he said at a press conference after attending a technical workshop in Seri Kembangan, near here, today.

“In the event of an accident, it is very dangerous for children, whether they are in the front or rear seat. Without the child safety seat, the risk of sustaining injuries is higher because there is no protection,“ he added.

Earlier, at a dialogue session with child safety seat suppliers, Loke said his ministry is still waiting for a decision from the Finance Ministry and Royal Customs Department on a proposal to waive the sales and service tax (SST) for these seats.

The dialogue was organised by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (Miros).

On the issue of rear seat belts, he recalled that the law requiring rear seat passengers to belt up was introduced in 2009.

“However, no effort has been made to enforce the law, so no action has been taken against errant passengers,“ he added.

“It is time now for us to enforce the law. Everyone, especially road users, should be more aware of the need to ensure their own safety,“ he said.

Loke also instructed the Road Safety Department to hold advocacy and awareness programmes on child safety in the car.

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