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Child Seats and Children in Cars

Recent changes to the laws in Spain state that children measuring 135 cm in height or less must ride in the rear seats of a vehicle, irrespective of their age, and must sit in the correct and approved seat appropriate to their size and weight.

The Child Restraint Systems provide the best protection for a child when on board a vehicle. That is why the law dictates their use, in an attempt to enforce the maximum protection for children.

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The use of child restraint systems reduces injuries by up to 75% in the event of a collision. According to data from the DGT, road traffic incidents are the leading cause of death amongst children under 14 years of age, and, tragically, 40% of those children who lose their lives wore no protection system, and, according to the statistics, could well be alive today.

The law also requires seats to be of an approved standard. Those which meet the minimum required standards carry an orange label, usually located at the rear, which guarantees that the seat has undergone a series of tests to prove safety and reliability.

The approval system is based on a European standard and EU regulation ECE-R44.03, which also ensures certain information is listed on the label.

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Classification of Child Restraint Seats

There are a number of classifications for car seats which are based on the physical characteristics of the child, the most important being weight and age.

Group 0

This category includes the baby from birth through 1 year. It can be used for children up to 10 kilos of weight. There are two elements that are typically used either a bassinet with harnesses to locate in the rear seats and which engages the seat belt or a child safety seat slightly tilted that may be placed in the front seat in the opposite direction of travel, or at the rear, in which case it is preferable to place it in the centre so as to minimize possible damage in the event of a side collision. If placed in the front, we must ensure that the airbag device for the passenger seat is disconnected. It is safest to place it in the back seat in the opposite direction of travel.

Group 0+

It is a new category that extends the weight up to 13 kg and for children up to 18 months. It is a chair that normally sits on the back seats and in the opposite direction of travel so as to better protect against any collision. Placing the chair in this way further protects the neck and spine.

Group I

Children weighing between 9 and 18 kilos, and approximately 1 to 4 years. The chairs are hooked in the seat belt of the vehicle. They are always located facing the direction of travel, using the fitted vehicle seat belt or an extension on the chair itself. The latter incorporate a harness of 4 or 5 points of anchorage.

Group II

For children 3 to 6 years, which with a weight between 15 and 25 kilos. It consists of or booster cushion with backrest provided with lateral protection for the head and is fitted at the rear in the direction of travel and, if possible, in the centre. You should include lateral guides to position the belt tight at the hips, avoiding injuries in the abdominal cavity or column.

Group III

For children between 5 and 12 years, weighing between 22 and 36 kilos. It is a booster cushion, possibly backed with side and head protection and height adjustment, so as to allow it to be vehicle seat belt to fit firmly over the child’s collarbone.

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Tips for buying a seat

Before purchasing a child seat, check your vehicle manual for instructions on how to secure the seat and to ensure it is compatible.

Take your vehicle to the location where you are purchasing the chair and ask them to demonstration assembly. Do it yourself in the presence of the seller.

Take your child and try the chair in order to verify that the child can sit comfortably and safely.

This article first appeared in issue 2 of the N332 RoadWatch magazine…

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