The regulation in Spain establishes that minors who are less than 1.35 m tall should travel in the rear seats using an approved child restraint system adapted to their size and weight. Does that mean children who exceed that height can travel without a child seat? According to the regulation, yes. Even so, in terms of safety it may be necessary to extend the use of these accessories a little longer.
The main reason is that the law lays down some minimum requirements to guarantee better road safety for children. It is compulsory for children under 1.35 m tall to travel in a child seat as there is no way they can use an adult seat belt. It is the minimum obligatory requirement. Nevertheless, children should ideally make use of these safety accessories, in this case booster seats (preferably with a backrest), up to 1.50 m tall.
Indeed, we have found that this is a very widespread measure in other European countries. For children with a height of 1.50 m and below must use car child seats in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyrus, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and Turkey. In most cases we are talking about children younger than 12 years old. Here you can consult an infograph about the regulations in force in the countries of the European Union.
According to the report 'Booster seats in the car: How long should they be used?’ (Spanish), prepared by Fundación MAPFRE, people stop using child seats and booster cushions too early, switching over to seat belts before the right time. It should be borne in mind that adult seat belts may not provide a snug fit for the body shape of a 12 year-old.
These are all reasons why you should not be in a hurry to remove booster seats too quickly, even for children over 1.35 m tall. In fact, it is advisable to use them up to a height of 1.50 m. In any case, the seat belt should only be used once it fits snugly.
If the seat belt does not tighten properly, the child is not well enough protected and the risk of suffering some kind of injury increases. The consequences of not using a booster seat when needed can be catastrophic.
We advise using a booster seat in any circumstances in which children are too big to use other types of car child seats but still too small to be able to use the car's adult seat belts safely. In fact, it has been demonstrated that for 6-12 year olds, booster seats are 45% safer than adult seat belts.
Bear in mind that there are changes under way in respect of the official approval of booster seats. The regulations in force, both R-129 and R44/04 advocate the use of booster seats with backrests. The only booster seats to be approved without backrests are for Group 3 under regulation R44/04. All of the booster seats officially approved by regulation R-129 are with a backrest. You can check out all the latest news on booster seats with a backrest right here.
Therefore, you should not be in a rush to abandon booster seats. This infograph shows whether the seat belt is adjusted correctly: