Do you know when it's time to stop using a child restraint system and start using the seat belt? Please note that you should only stop using a car seat or booster seat when you can correctly fasten your child with a belt designed for adults. This should never be done too early and always comply with the regulations in each country.
Depending on the country, there may be regulations requiring minors to use child restraint systems until they are 135 cm or 150 cm tall. In this article we discuss this topic. In most cases a seat belt will fit properly when the child reaches a height of 150 cm. Therefore, although the regulations only oblige us to use a CRS up to 135 cm, at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend you keep using it until the child reaches 150 cm.
Seat belts are designed for adults. The booster seat or cushion is the last step before using a seat belt. They ensure the belt is perfectly adapted and adequately restrains the child. It elevates the child to make sure this is the case.
According to the report 'Booster seats in cars: until when should they be used?’ by Fundación MAPFRE, people stop using child seats and booster cushions too early, switching over to seat belts before they should. Do not remove the seat boosters or cushions to soon, because if the seat belt does not fit properly, the consequences can be very serious. Here we address the consequences of not using a booster seat when needed.
We will know the time has come to change when the belt fits properly. The belt should never go over the child's neck and it should fit as far down as possible over the hips.
The belt should fit as follows:
- The diagonal strap should cover the collar bone, over the shoulder and across the chest.
- The lap belt should be as low as possible over the hips.
- The belt should never be twisted, folded or loose.
The headrest is also key, both when traveling with a seat booster (without a backrest) and when directly using the seat belt. We remind you that booster seats with backrests provide better protection, especially in side impacts, as well as avoiding possible errors when putting on the belt.
The headrest protects the head and neck in the event of an accident. It is important that the child's head is properly positioned in relation to the headrest. The headrest should be about 4 centimeters away from the head. The headrest needs to be adjusted so the head's center of gravity, usually at eye level, coincides with the strongest part of the headrest. It is important to block the headrest so it cannot easily move or be manipulated. We must bear in mind that if it is not positioned correctly, injuries can be aggravated in the event of an accident or sudden braking.
If it is not placed in the right position, it will not do its job properly, which could result in whiplash. The severity depends on whether the headrest was properly adjusted, and may even cause spinal injuries in the most serious cases.
In this infographic we address how the seat belt and headrest should look: