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How should a child travel in an RV?

¿Cómo debe viajar un niño en una autocaravana?

10/04/2019

An RV (motorhome) is the perfect vehicle for going on a family trip.  It not only gives us a freedom and independence that no other travel options can offer, but they are also a fantastic family experience which the children will remember their whole lives.

Whether we are thinking about buying an RV or renting one for the vacations, we need to know what the legislation says with regard to children's safety. 

Firstly, an RV is not a passenger car. Therefore the legislation differs in certain aspects, although if we look at how children should be seated when they are less than 135 cm tall, the rules are the same.

In fact, children who are less than 135 cm tall should be seated on the rear seats in child seats appropriate for their physical characteristics. They cannot sit on the front seats unless the rear seats are occupied or if the vehicle does not have rear seats. This last point is not the case in an RV, given that we will choose one with enough seats for all the passengers.

Although ISOFIX anchorages are increasingly appearing in vehicles, they are not necessarily fitted in new RVs. Due to their larger size and weight and because they are often designed along the lines of a commercial vehicle, these vehicles are classified as «special vehicles from the M1 category», namely commercial vehicles for passenger transportation. Every seat must have a seat belt, but it is not compulsory to have the ISOFIX system.

There is a type of RV which is a van with the inside approved as a living space, but which has an unaltered exterior design. These are known as camper vans and they are usually classified as a passenger vehicle. These vehicles usually include ISOFIX anchorages on at least two seats.

When traveling, we should teach children how they should behave in an RV. Despite how exciting it is to travel in what is essentially a house, children need to know that while we are traveling we are in fact in a car: they should be sitting down, with their seat belts or harnesses fitting snugly and behaving calmly. 

It is important to make sure the RV's doors are properly closed during the trip and at night. We need to ensure that none of the children can open the door while we are on the road, which should not be happening in any case, given that they should stay seated, but we of course need to prevent them from getting out of the vehicle when they should not be. It is also important to prevent them from accessing and opening the windows. 

Lastly, we may not be familiar with the maximum speeds on the roads. The top speed on conventional roads is 90 km/h for passenger cars, motorbikes, buses and RVs with a maximum weight of less than 3500 kg, with the maximum speed for the rest of vehicles being 80 km/h.

In terms of speeds on the highways, the speed limit is 120 km/h for passenger cars, motorbikes and RVs with a maximum weight of less than or equal to 3500 Kg; 90 km/h for lorries, vans and RVs over 3500 kg; and 100 km/h for all other vehicles.

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