The regulations that govern Child Restraint Systems are changing and we need to clarify how this affects us as users. There's no need to worry though. Even though we're talking about regulations, there's no need to be alarmed and we will have a refresher to keep us up-to-date.
Until now if the CRS were approved in accordance with UNECE Regulation 44/03, that was enough. This was the only rule in place before July 9, 2013, when UNECE Regulation 129 went into effect through Directive 2014/37/EU. This latest provision is contained in Industry regulations.
The old method for assigning types of child car seats in relation to age and weight will be replaced exclusively by height criteria, as established in Royal Decree 667/2015, of July 17, which modifies General Traffic Regulations (http://transparencia.gob.es/en/buscar/contenido/normavigente/NormaEV03D2-20152802 ), approved by Royal Decree 1428/2003, of November 21.
According to the contents of this regulation, which went into effect on October 1, 2015, we will review the key points that differentiate the old guidelines from the new ones.
There also used to be discrepancy regarding how to position the CRS. Some had to be positioned facing the direction of travel, and others opposite to it, depending on the way in which they were made, regardless of the age group that the car seat was designed for. Under the new regulations it is specified that Child Restraint Systems should be positioned exclusively as per the manufacturer's instructions.
With the modification of Article 117 of the General Traffic Regulations the safety of minors is also taken into consideration. Various studies show that the back seat is safer than the front seat, and in particular the back middle seat. The protection offered by the vehicle's structure, in the case of head-on or front-side impact, keeps the person in the car seat better protected.
Therefore, despite the fact that in the past those under 12 years of age who used the appropriate CRS could travel in the front seat even when the back seats were not being used, now minors less than 135 centimeters tall will be compelled to use the back seats, where the possibility of suffering injuries is much lower and the severity of these injuries is vastly reduced.
There are only three exceptional circumstances whereby minors will be able to use the front passenger seat, provided they are using relevant Child Restraint Systems:
- If the vehicle does not have any back seats
- If all back seats are being used by other children shorter than 135 centimeters.
- If it is not possible to install the approved CRS in the back seats.
If the instructions in these regulations are not followed, in addition to putting children's safety at risk, the driver will face a fine of €200 and lose three points from his or her license, and the vehicle may also be taken off the road if the agent deems it necessary.