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European Union legislation

European Union legislation


European Union legislation with regard to seatbelts and child seats

European Directive 2003/20/EC,approved in 2003 and in force since 2006, makes the wearing of seatbelts and the use of child restraining systems mandatory for all drivers and their passengers, in particular children:

  1. It prohibits children under three from traveling in any vehicle that isn't equipped with a child restraining system suitable for their age and weight. If the vehicle is not equipped with a restraining system, children under three cannot travel in it.

  2. Children over 3 years of age and under 150cms in height  can only travel in the front passenger seat of a vehicle if the use a suitable child seat.

  3. Every country within the EU can permit, within its territory, children under 150 cm but at least 135 cm in height to use adult seatbelts. 

  4. Every country within the EU can permit, within it's territory, that children traveling by taxi do not have to use a restraining device. However, when traveling without a restraining device they cannot travel in the front seat.

  5. Children cannot use backward facing retention devices.

  6. All of the child restraining systems used must comply with the  regulations European Directive 77/541/EEC, or any earlier adaptation of them.

  7. In buses, all of the occupants over 3 years of age seated in a bus, must use, the safety devices installed in the bus.

As with all European Directives, compliance is obligatory in all 26 member states of the European Union.

OECD Recommendations for safer driving

It is worth mentioning a report from 2003 by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) in which they stress the importance of national laws to protect children of all ages, without exception. The protection on the other hand and according to the OECD, should not be dependenton the vehicle being used (private car, taxi…).

The legislative package recommended by the OECD includes: instruction in the function of age and weight of children, information on which seat or seats should be used by children, practical guidance for traffic policeon on supervisingthe installation and use of seats, penalties (including fines, points on the license, loss of driving license) and increases in insurance premiums. The key points of the legislation according to the OEDC are:

  1. All the occupants of the vehicle, without exception, must be protected by a seat belt or child seat.

  2. Children must travel in a child seat suitable for their size. (Baby seats, child seats, booster seats, seatbelts…).

  3. The law includes every driver and every vehicle equipped with seatbelts.

  4. The driver is responsible for guaranteeing than any passenger under 16 years of age is correctly protected in their vehicle.

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