Changes in traffic law and the requirement of mandatory use of car seats for children is causing controversy in Thailand
For decades, Thai parents have allowed their children to ride in cars without car seats, and sometimes even without a seat belt. This practice, which also applies to school buses, is so common that people are not aware of the dangers involved.
As of Sept. 5, however, it will be prohibited by law. An amended version of the Land Traffic Act, which was published in the Royal Gazette earlier this month, states that children under the age of six and no taller than 135 centimeters must sit in a car seat in a moving vehicle. Violation of the new rule will result in a fine of up to 2,000 baht.
However, although the purpose of the amended law is to protect children, people are already expressing concern about how it will be enforced in Thailand.
The benefits of a car seat
Portable car seats for infants and young children are designed to attach to the passenger seat in a car. Associate Professor Vorawut Chojprasert is an ardent supporter of the new law, considering it a “life-saving tool.”
“When a car accident happens, children are usually the first to be thrown out of the car. They are also more likely to be seriously injured,” Dr. Voravuth said. “Just as adults are protected by a seat belt, young passengers deserve to be protected by a car seat,” he adds.
According to official statistics, between 2017 and 2021, 221 infants and young children were killed in car accidents in Thailand. Few of these victims were protected by a car seat. Meanwhile, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury to children in a crash by 71 to 82 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says.
Dissatisfaction with the new rule
Nevertheless, many parents complain loudly about the new rule, and some point out that they do just fine without child car seats. Many also say that car seats are too expensive, and having to buy them will only make their financial problems worse.
Consumers have also noticed that car seat prices have skyrocketed as soon as the amended Surface Transportation Act was in the news. Social media is actively discussing that the prices of car seats for older children have risen from just over 6,000 baht to nearly 9,000 baht in two days.
“The government should support parents and introduce measures to combat overpricing,” commentators state. A mother of two who runs the Happy Parenting social media page said the first car seat she bought cost more than 39,000 baht and the second one cost about 17,000 baht.
According to Chakra Yodmani, deputy director-general, Thailand’s Department of Domestic Trade closely monitors car seat prices to warn retailers against inflated prices.
“Retailers who raise prices without good reason face up to seven years in prison and/or a maximum fine of 140,000 baht,” the department official said.
Products on the list are monitored every two weeks, and consumers can call the 1569 hotline to report overpricing.
“We’ve already talked to retailers like Central and several e-commerce platforms to make sure prices aren’t going up,” Chakra said. “There will also be promotional campaigns for car seats.”
That doesn’t mean retailers can’t raise prices at all, but they must inform the Department of Domestic Commerce.
In addition, the amended law in Thailand reportedly allows special cushions costing 600-700 baht to be used instead of child car seats.
Alternatives for parents?
The Mirror Foundation in Thailand helps parents by offering used car seats for 300-500 baht at its charity store. However, due to high demand, all the cheap car seats are already sold out, and the foundation encourages people to donate more used items.
Used car seats in good condition are offered at a low price to help parents of limited means. All proceeds from the sale go to the foundation’s many causes.
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