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When it is not compulsory to use a child car seat at your holiday destination. Responsibility comes first

¿No es obligatorio el uso de sillita de coche en tu destino de vacaciones? La responsabilidad primero


On our trip for the vacations we might find ourselves in a place where, unlike Spain, there is no clear legislation on Children's Road Safety. We might be vacationing in a place where there are no specific laws encouraging children to travel in approved Child Restraint Systems, for example. Or perhaps there are no clear laws on where to put a child in a vehicle. Nevertheless, in this link you can check out the applicable legislation in different countries:  The United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the European Union.

If we look at Latin America and the Caribbean, child accident death rates are significantly higher than those in Europe and, generally speaking, those of the developed countries. A study conducted by Fundación MAPFRE and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), published in 2016, revealed the road accident rates in 17 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela), comparing them with the benchmark figures for Spain, Portugal and Sweden. The Study: Road Safety for Children: Use of child restraint systems: analysis of the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

What is clear from this work is that up until 2013, the countries mentioned had significant legislative gaps. Furthermore, there were exceptions to using a CRS in cars, or, to put it another way, it was not compulsory to use them in vehicles.

Only three of the countries had comprehensive legislation (Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico), which indicates an urgent need to establish serious and comprehensive technical legislation and to exert media pressure through awareness-raising and outreach campaigns. The key is to reach out to families and to parents, with good, high-quality and extensive information.

If we have chosen a country with lenient or non-existent legislation for our vacations we must put personal responsibility first, regardless of whether there is suitable legislation or not.  On occasion, we will have to be guided by obligations or restrictions, although the most important thing is to have our own sense of responsibility and the right attitude in favor of Children's Road Safety.

This means that it is up to us to decide how children can travel safely by car, and this decision entails protecting them and not allowing ourselves to take the path of least resistance or thinking that, «if it is not compulsory», we won't use a CRS.

One option is to rent a child car seat at our vacation spot for the days we will be there enjoying a rest. Fortunately, in Latin America and the Caribbean these devices undergo safety tests which guarantee a minimum level of protection. We could of course use our regular child car seat, but on long distance trips or by airplane this would mean having to check-in the seat if it can't be taken in the cabin.

We recommend:

  • Using a child restraint system suitable for the child's height and weight.
  • That it is an approved seat.
  • That it is not too old and is in good condition.
  • That children in child restraint systems are placed on the rear seats, preferably on the middle seat. Find out the best place to put the seat here.
  • That children travel in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, and up to 15 months although we recommend doing so until they are 4 years old. Check that the child car seat does indeed allow for this option.
  • Securing the CRS and the child properly. This could be with either ISOFIX anchorages or with a seat belt. Clear up all your doubts here.
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