We should not make the mistake of taking our child out of their child restraint system too soon.
Once our child is using a child car seat in the top group, or, in other words, a booster seat with or without a backrest (at Fundación MAPFRE we recommend using booster seats with backrests), the following question might come up: When is a child old enough to stop using it?
In principle, as established by the legislation, "in vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, underage passenger who are less than or equal to 135 cm tall must travel on the rear seats using an approved child restraint system suitable for their size and weight”, meaning that until they reach this height it is compulsory for them to use a child car seat. Weight is not a determining factor here.
However, European Directive 2003/20/EC establishes that all children less than 150 cm tall should travel in a child restraint device suitable for their weight. This height is mentioned since after this point the seat belt, which is designed for adults, can properly secure the child's body. We should bear in mind that not all countries establish this maximum height in their legislation. One such example is Spain.
Therefore, although the legislation states that once a child reaches 135 cm in height they are no longer required by law to use a child car seat, they should continue to do so until they are 150 cm tall and certainly until the seat belt fits them properly.
This is how a seat belt should be fastened when traveling:
- The upper part or shoulder belt should go over the middle part of the chest bone and collarbone. It should not be too close to the neck.
- The lower band or lap belt needs to go across the pelvic bone and not over the stomach.
- The top of the head and the headrest should be at the same height.