It's vital to be aware of what laws are in place when it comes to traveling safely. In general, traffic laws are designed to guarantee the safety of highway users and reflect what are considered to be the very minimum regulations. Hence the importance of being aware of traffic regulations, not only to avoid any fines they might entail but primarily to prevent accidents and minimize their consequences.
The current law in Spain states that in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver's seat, children who are equal to or smaller than 1.35 cm in height must travel in the back seats using an approved child restraint system suited to their height and weight.
Although this is what the law states, the Accident Prevention and Road Safety department of Fundación MAPFRE wants to put an emphasis on the need to use the right child restraint systems until the child can use a standard seat belt correctly, even if they have grown past the 1.35 cm stipulated by the law. It is important to know when to make the definitive move to a standard seat belt to avoid running any risks on the roads.
Naturally, children of 1.35 cm or below must travel in a CRS, but are parents and drivers really familiar with the law? The report "Booster seats in cars: up to what age should they be used?" (Spanish), produced by Fundación MAPFRE, states that 20.25 percent of parents claim that a child can use a seat belt without a child seat (booster) when he/she is between 105 and 135 cm tall (the law actually states not until the child has reached at least 135 cm).
Meanwhile, 3.33 percent believe that once the child is at least 105 cm tall he/she can use a seat belt without a CRS. However, 39.75 percent say the child has to continue using a CRS until he/she is between 135 and 150 cm tall, and 26.67 percent say from a height of 150 cm. Some 10% have no idea what the law says in this respect.
The study also asked parents about the child's weight. Although this is not a common reason for stopping the use of a booster seat, given that the law refers to height (the best way of making sure that the seat belt fits properly), some 35.31 percent of people say that it is when the child reaches a weight of 36 kg. It is true that most of the booster seats can be used until the child reaches this weight. Meanwhile, 21.85 percent believe that this weight is between 25 and 36 kg and 14.44 percent believe it is between 18 and 25 kg. Some 6.79 percent believe that you can use a booster seat until the child weighs between 13 and 18 kg, which is far too light. And 19.63 percent have no idea what the law says in this respect.
The report states that the level of ignorance about weight and height is most commonly found among people with the fewest educational qualifications and those responsible for the youngest, smallest and lightest children. Perhaps this is because they have not yet reached the point where a booster seat is needed and for this reason they are unsure up to what age it is necessary.
With regard to age (which is not a determining factor either), the study shows that 38.64 percent of people believe a child can use a seat belt without a booster seat when they get to 11-12 years old. Some 10.86 percent believe this age is 13-14, while 24.07 percent think that you can use a seat belt on its own once they have reached 9-10 years old. It is noteworthy that 13.83 percent believe the cut-off age is 7-8 years old, and 8.15 percent think it is 5-6 years old (when they should be using a Group II seat).