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Where in the car should the child seat be installed?

Where in the car should the child seat be installed?


Many queries can arise when it comes to installing a child restraint system. The most common question is usually where to position the child seat, i.e., which is the safest seat and, therefore, whereabouts in the car should your child be positioned? 

First, you should be clear on what the law has to say on this matter. Royal Decree 667/2015, of 17 July 2015 states that in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver's seat, children who are 135 cm tall or less must travel in the back seats using an approved child restraint system suited to their height and weight.

In this regard there are only three exceptions that allow a child to travel in the front seat in its child seat:

  • If the vehicle does not have any back seats.
  • If all the back seats are already occupied by other children in their respective child seats.
  • If it is not possible to install a child restraint system on the back seats.
For all these reasons, it is clear that children in child seats must always travel in the back seats. If they have to travel in the front due to one or more of the three exceptions, they can only do so if the airbag is deactivated, something that is strictly mandatory for rear-facing child restraint systems.
Remember the article ‘If the airbag protects, why should we have to deactivate it when traveling with children and under what circumstances?’. We also provide information on how to deactivate the front passenger seat airbag and under what circumstances in this other post. 

In this sense, remember that children up to 15 months old should travel facing the rear in order to be in the safest position possible. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend that children continue traveling this way until they are at least 4 years old.  

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After reviewing the regulation we are clear that it is compulsory for children in child seats to travel in the back seats apart from the three aforementioned exceptions.

All the experts agree that the best place to position the child seat is on the central part of the rear car seat. This is mainly to be as far away as possible from the side doors and therefore better protected against this type of impact. The main drawback is that most cars have their Isofix connecting points in the two corner seats. Therefore, if you want to use the Isofix system, it is best to opt for the right-hand rear seat, in that this allows for visual contact with the child and provides safe access from the sidewalk to put in or remove the child from its seat in a calm and collected way. 

Bear in mind that the main purpose of the Isofix system is specifically to avoid mistakes when installing the child seat, an essential part of protecting the child. If you are not proficient at using the seat belt to secure the child seat, the best option is to rely on the Isofix system. 

In this respect, what is essential is to choose the seat that offers the best possible option for installing a child seat. The safest seat in the world can be rendered ineffective if it is badly installed. Choosing child seats with the Isofix system guarantees the installation will be correct, so long as the manufacturer's instructions are followed.

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