Same rules should apply for taxis and private-hire cars
Experts, readers weigh in on private-hire car services requiring booster seats or child restraints
If taxis do not need to use booster seats or child restraints when picking up passengers with young children, Uber and Grab drivers should also not have to do so.
This was the general sentiment of readers who responded to The New Paper's article yesterday about this little-known requirement facing private car-hiring services.
The TNP report said Uber and Grab cars were not allowed to ferry children below 1.35m without the safety seats.
Taxis are exempted because they are considered public service vehicles under the Road Traffic Act.
Facebook user Arwen Ahmad said: "Taxis and private-hire cars are both cars, so where is the logic that only the latter needs booster seat? Are we all not concern about a child's well-being and safety?"
Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, told The New Paper that the key issue here is whether Uber and Grab cars should also be considered public service vehicles and therefore be exempted from having child seats.
He said this is an issue that should be considered and reviewed.
Mr Sitoh added that while private-hire car services do provide point-to-point transport services that are largely similar to taxi services, "they are, however, not the same".
"Private-hire cars are not required to abide by certain regulations imposed on taxis," he said.
Many readers on Facebook also asked if the insurance for private-hire cars are different from those of taxis.
Mr Anthony Chey, an insurance litigation partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP said that taxis and private-hire cars have different types of insurance policies. However, both would cover passengers in case of an accident.
Some readers also raised the idea of relooking whether taxis should also be required to have child seats as well.
Another Facebook user Kelvin Seet said: "Booster seats are for safety. Whether they are for public vehicles or not isn't supposed to be a factor. If that is the logic, that means safety isn't the priority for boosters."
Mr Gerard Pereira, manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said a child restraint or a booster seat is important in ensuring the safety of a child.
A child under 1.35m who is not in an appropriate child restraint or a booster seat could suffer serious injuries when an accident occurs.
"The seatbelt will tighten automatically when there is inertia. If the force from the seatbelt is too strong, there is a possibility that the child's bones may break," Mr Pereira said.
In response to parents who face difficulties with children staying still in child restraint and booster seats, he said: "Children should start being in child restraints and booster seats from a young age so that they can get used to it.
"An older child or a parent can be seated next to the child to distract him or her. Safety should never be compromised."
Taxis abroad exempted from child restraints
Taxis are exempted from child restraint laws in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
Child restraint requirements differ in parts of the US.
In Washington, children have to be restrained in a child restraint system until they are eight, or at least 1.45m. Those older than eight, or taller than 1.45m, have to be properly restrained with a seat belt.
This does not apply to for-hire vehicles such as taxis, shuttle services and school buses.
In Florida, a child who is five or younger needs to have a crash-tested, federally-approved child restraint device.
This does not apply to taxis.
In the UK, children must use a child car seat until they are 12 or 1.35m-tall.
A child can travel without a child seat in private-hire vehicles and taxis if the driver does not provide the correct child seat.
However, they must travel on a rear seat and wear an adult seat belt if they are three or older, or without a seat belt if they are under three.
In Australia, public minibuses or taxis are exempted from the law that states that passengers up to seven must be in a suitable child restraint.
Uber, which is available in these countries, states in its community guidelines that drivers have to "act in compliance with all relevant state, federal and local laws and the rules of the road at all times".
Uber did not reply to The New Paper's queries by press time. - ISABELLE LIEW