Is it better for children to travel with a child car seat until they are 135 cm or 150 cm tall? What happens in other countries? European Directive 2003/20/EC, passed in 2003 and in force since 2006, gathers together all the regulations in this regard and offers Member States a certain amount of leeway to establish the maximum limit at which children must travel with a child restraint system.
As many of us will no doubt recall, before the latest regulatory changes came into force, only children under the age of 12 were required to use a child restraint system. The age of the child was used as a reference as it was assumed that the majority of children would measure the same, but this is in fact rarely the case. This is why the European regulatory reform carried out was so important as it made height the determining factor when deciding if a child can travel with or without a child car seat.
European Directive 2003/20/EC establishes that all children less than 150 cm tall should be traveling with a restraint system suitable for their weight. This is the height at which the seat belt, in fact designed for adults, correctly secures the child's body. Take a look at how a seat belt should correctly fit.
However, not all countries establish 150 cm as the maximum height. This same European Directive makes it possible for Member States, within their own territory, to allow children who are less than 150 cm tall and at least 135 cm tall to use adult seat belts. We should be aware that these height limits will be reviewed. This is the case, for example, in Spain.
Although the regulations in many European Union countries establish that it is compulsory to use a child car seat if the child is less than 135 cm tall, for its part, the European Directive advises having a 150 cm cut-off point.
Among the countries with a 135 cm height limit are Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden and Greece. Whereas countries like Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Malta and Hungary establish a 150 cm height limit.
At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend that you continue using a child restraint system until the seat belt can be properly fastened, although there is no obligation under the law. In the following graphic we can see how a seat belt should fit correctly: