What is the safest way for large families to travel? Many families have a considerable challenge on their hands when they have three children or more. Unfortunately, not all cars are designed to accommodate 3 child car seats on the rear seats, which would be the ideal option. We will go on to cover the options available in a number of different cases.
If we have two children then there will be no problem. Both children can sit in the rear seats with the corresponding child restraint system. However, when we are dealing with 3 children or more the situation changes considerably and everything depends on the kind of seat used and the model of car we have.
We should not forget that the General Traffic Rules establish that minors who are less than 135cm tall should sit on the rear seats in a child car seat approved for their weight and height. There are only 3 exceptions in which a child can travel on the passenger seat: If the car does not have rear seats meaning it is impossible to install a child car seat and if the rear seats are already being used by children in their own child car seats.
When discussing a 5-seater car and 3 children , we may be lucky enough to find that the child car seats we are using fit perfectly on the rear seats. Before purchasing the seat in question, it is a good idea to make sure that the 3 CRS's fit on the rear seats correctly and that they do not interfere with each other, meaning that they are not too close together or rubbing each other. Of course, if one of the CRS's is a booster cushion it is easier for all three to fit.
If the size of the car means it is not possible to install 3 child car seats on the rear seat (usually because the middle seat is too small), we have the option of placing a child car seat on the front passenger seat. We must always remember to deactivate the airbag, especially when the child car seat is rearward facing. Here you can find out how to deactivate the airbag.
In these cases we recommend that the youngest children sit on the rear seats (above all because of the airbag) and that the older children sit in their CRS on the passenger seat. Of course, we can only choose this option when the rear seats are being used by minors with child car seats and because no other option is available. Child car seats should not be left unoccupied; minors should be traveling in them.
In the case of a 5-seater car and 4 children, the only available option is to place three child car seats together on the rear seats. One of the children must travel in the front seat (preferably the oldest child). It will be much easier if a CRS or more seats are boosters cushions, but for this reason we should make sure. Nevertheless, due to the greater safety they offer we recommend that booster seats have a back support. Unfortunately these can be problematic when trying to fit more child car seats on the rear seats, although safety should always come first. Such seats offer more protection for the child, especially for the head and on side impacts.
We should take into account that, unfortunately, it is not possible to place three child car seats on the rear seats in the majority of vehicles.
In these cases, the best option would be to use a minivan (if the budget can stretch to it). It is the only feasible option in the case of 4 or 5 children. In fact, we would not have problems traveling with up to 6 children (with one of them traveling in the front seat). Here we offer you advice on how to choose a minivan.
In all the cases mentioned we should take into account if we are referring to child car seats with ISOFIX that our car should be prepared and have the corresponding anchorage, whether they can be installed with a seat belt (in which case there is no problem), or if we are talking about i-Size child car seats which can only be installed in certain vehicles (the list of compatible cars is usually included in the manufacturer's manual. We can also see if the car accepts i-Size seats and that it has the corresponding labeling)…
The best option is to visit a specialist point of sale where they can offer us the best possible combination of seats and where they allow us to try them and even let the children sit in them. Remember that as well as ensuring they fit perfectly, the seat should be the appropriate one for the childs height and weight and should be comfortable.
We should take into account that the number of people being transported in a vehicle cannot be higher than the number of seats authorised. This means that it we have a 5-seater car, only 4 children may travel in it. If we travel in a minivan with 7 seats, only 6 children may travel in it.