Much has already been written about the importance of fitting the correct car safety seat for babies and children. This guide will assume that nobody needs to be convinced of that fact, but will instead look at the regulations and the law here in Spain concerning What type of car seat should be fitted for babies and children of what age group.
It is the legal responsibility of the driver of the vehicle to ensure that all of his passengers are wearing the appropriate safety device.
Firstly, as in most other countries in the EU, the term ‘children’ is taken to mean those under 12 years of age, and those who may be older who are less than 135cms tall.
There are basically 4 different styles of safety device used in motor vehicles :
1.) Forward facing car seats
2.) Rear facing car seats
3.) Booster seats
4.) Seat belts
Age : up to 18 months / Approx weight : up to 13 kg
Fitted facing away from the direction of travel for maximum support and safety in the event of an accident, and secured by straps over each shoulder, leg and fastening between the legs. Often classified by the manufacturers as “Group 0” or “Group 0+”
A baby seat should never be fitted on a front passenger seat when the car has an airbag activated.
Age : 18 months to 4 years / Approx weight : between 9 – 18 kg
Similar fixing to the above seat, but forward facing. Classified by the manufacturers as “Group 1”. Should only be fitted in the rear seats that are directly behind one of the front seats - IE Not in the middle.
Age : 3 to 12 Years / Approx weight : between 15 – 36 Kg
When the child has outgrown a Group 0 or Group 1 seat, but is still too small to safely use the fitted seatbelt then a Group 2 seat, Which is essentially a seat that lies on top of the fitted car seat with a supportive base, back and head and utilises the cars standard seatbelt through a position locator, could be the answer. For slightly larger children, a Group 3 seat is a booster cushion that elevates the height of the child to enable them to safely use the standard seatbelt.
Age : Over 12 years / Over 135 cms tall
The child should only ever use the car’s fitted seatbelt when it can pass over the shoulder joint and not touch the neck. If not they should remain with the Group 3 Booster cushion. No child under the age of 12 should be permitted to sit in the front passenger seat.
The only exceptions to these regulations are when a child is travelling a short journey in a taxi and in an urban area.
What are the legal penalties ?
As the driver of a vehicle, you are legally responsible to ensure that any child passenger is using the appropriate safety device for their size and/or age. Any driver who is found to be in breach of these requirements could face a significant fine and a deduction of 3 points.
Furthermore, failure to wear a seat belt or failure to ensure that a child passenger uses an appropriate child restraint or wears a seat belt according to the legal requirements described above, could invalidate any claims against your motor insurance cover.
Lastly, you may also be liable for civil proceedings for damages, if you failed to safely carry someone else's child in your vehicle.