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When must I make the definite move to a seat belt?

¿Cuándo debo dar el paso definitivo al cinturón de seguridad?

27/06/2016

When speaking of road safety and, specifically, about child safety, there is a series of guides and rules to take into account, both descriptive and informative. In other words, thanks to these rules, we know exactly what type of restraint system we must use, depending on our children's physical characteristics. In general, we know that newborns must use the so-called Group 0+, and afterward, as they grow, we move up the categories with the seats becoming increasingly larger and safer. Here we help you to choose the seat you need, depending on your needs.

When the child grows enough, he or she will move up from using a seat with harnesses to a booster seat, and after passing this phase, will use the seat like an adult, with the seat belt, without accessories. The real problem many parents face is deciding the exact moment in which their children may leave behind the booster seat and move on to the seat belt. How may we know exactly when to "make the move"?

Children between the ages of 6 and 9 are more vulnerable in traffic accidents

This reasonable uncertainty that parents have as to when to stop using the booster seat is perfectly understandable. Not only have the children grown a lot, but they also move with greater independence and, in some cases, "look" a lot older than their real age. During this age range, especially when getting closer to the age of 9, parents' uncertainties are reflected in their premature removal of the booster seat.

This issue may negatively impact your children's safety because if the seat belt may not be properly adjusted, injuries in the event of an accident may be serious. A perfect analysis of this is given in the report by Fundación MAPFREBooster seats in cars: Until when must these be used?”.

We must be absolutely clear on the single rule that will clarify any of our doubts: Children may wear only the seat belt at the moment as of when this device remains properly adjusted to the body, without endangering any of its vulnerable areas, like the neck. A child must continue using the booster seat before that. We must not be in any hurry at all because the booster seat guarantees that the seat belt is correctly adjusted to the body, as commented in the article “What should you take into account when choosing a booster seat for the car?”.

There is no age limit for using a booster seat in a car. This is why we need not be in any hurry to delete it from our daily routine, because if we do so prematurely, we put our children at risk. We defend this same idea and philosophy as regards the usual child restraint systems.

Legislation and regulations set forth that minors with a height equal to or below 1.35 meters must use the Child Restraint System (CRS) and be seated in the rear of the car, unless one of the following three exemptions apply: that the vehicle is a two-seater; that the rear seats are already occupied by other children in seat; and that, due to the car's specifications, it is not possible to fit all of the child restraint systems there.

The difference between our compliance with regulations (that are obligatory) and our reasonable use of child restraint systems is our children's safety. If once we are no longer obligated by regulations to use the CSR (booster seat, when applicable) we remove it without first verifying that the child is properly protected by the seat belt, then we incur in a risk for the child. Nothing will happen, however, if we wait a prudent time period while continuing to use the booster seat which for the child is something that's already a part of the usual routine when getting into the car.

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