In spite of the fact that current Spanish Law obliges children under 135 cm tall to travel in the back seats, there are still plenty of drivers who decide to put them in the front. It is remarkable that, among the main justifications for doing this, no mention is made of the three current legal exceptions. If fact, 40.8 percent confirm that they travel with their child in the front seat over short distances.
The current regulation dictates that children under 135 cm tall must travel in the back seats in an approved child restraint system. There are only three exceptions that allow them to travel in the front passenger seat:
- The back seats are already occupied by other children in child seats.
- The child seat cannot be installed on the back seat.
- The vehicles does not have back seats.
However, it is remarkable that none of these exceptions are given as being among the main reasons why children normally travel in the front.
The study "Booster seats in the car: How long should they be used?" (Spanish), produced by Fundación MAPFRE, reveals that 1.65 percent admit to always putting their child in the front seat, while 4.62 percent say they often do so and 15.38 percent say they do it now and again. Conversely, 21.54 percent do it rarely and 56.92 percent never do it.
Among the circumstances in which children travel in the front seats, the one that crops up most often is precisely the one which involves driving short distances, with 40.8 percent. We need to bear in mind that, however short the journey, children must be correctly strapped into their child seats. It has been demonstrated that the back seat is safer and therefore more advisable.
At the same time, 12.07 percent confirm they do it as something exceptional while 10.92 percent say that they put the child in the front seat if there is no-one else in the car.
It should be noted that 5.17 percent confirm that they drive with children in the front passenger seat when the car is full (this should only be the case when those occupying the back seats are also children in child seats) and 4.6 percent when traveling with another adult.
We also discovered that 3.45 percent do it for the sake of convenience and and 2.30 percent say they do it using safety measures. It is especially striking that there are 2.3 percent who say they travel with the child in the front if the child asks to, and 2.3 percent who do it when driving in the countryside. 1.72 percent say they do it because the child gets car sick.
Why is it better in the back?
When they launched their measure, the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) took into account a study carried out in the USA of 5,751 children under 15 years old traveling in vehicles involved in serious traffic accidents which showed that traveling in the back seat has the effect of offering protection, being the difference between serious injury and death.
Moreover, the study “Rear seat safer: seating position, restraint use and injuries in children in traffic crashes in Victoria, Australia” indicates that the risk of death to children under the age of four traveling in a car that crashes doubles if they travel in the front seat and by four times if they are under one year old.