It is also worth paying attention to the advice offered by the DGT, WHO or the MAPFRE FOUNDATION.
By law, in Spain, those under 12 years can only travel in the front seat if seated in an approved child seat. As an exception if they measure over 135cms in height they can travel using an adult seatbelt. A child is never permitted to travel in a backward facing child seat on the front passenger seat it the airbag is not deactivated. Children travelling in the back seats must also be equipped with a child restraining system suitable for their height and weight.
With respect to public transport, the law allows children to travel on the front seat of a taxi without a restraining device in cities or urban areas (although permitted we, at the MAPFRE FOUNDATION recommend the use of child seats since accidents happen anywhere). In long distance buses child seats are obligatory up to 11 years of age.
Following these rules and with the correct use of child restraining systems, risk is reduced by a minimum of 50 to 60%. This can be further reduced by following certain recommendations:
- Place the child seat facing backwards and when possible in the middle of the backseat, the furthest away from any impact zone.
- Avoid carrying heavy or rigid objects or toys inside the vehicle and always ensure that luggage is safely stowed so it can’t move in the event of an accident.
- Ensure that the child seat being used is suitable for your vehicle: not all child-restraining systems are suited to all vehicles. Before buying a child worth it is worth having a try at installing it first.
- Remember to take off their backpack before being seated in the child seat.
- To avoid the baby’s head falling forward when sleeping causing a risk of obstruction to their breathing it is worth adjusting the inclination of the seat according to the makers instructions.
- Only ever use baskets or carrycots approved for use in your vehicle.
- Avoid gaps make sure that harnesses or seatbelts are a tight fit so the child’s back is supported against the seat back to avoid submarining. This happens when a child slips down so that the seatbelt is pressing on the soft areas of the abdomen.
The new Spanish Road Safety Law in operation since June 2014 includes the possibility of immobilizing a vehicle if it is not equipped with a suitable child restraint system for any child travelling in the car. In only one week during September the DGT found 377 minors less than 12 years of age travelling without any restraining system.
At the MAPFRE FOUNDATION we recommend you always use a child seat suitable for their weight and height and use extreme caution during any journey. As adults, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are as safe as possible.