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Reviews and test drives
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Children in cars
Be safe, be legal, be sure
The new rules for the carriage of children in cars, passed in July of this year as part of the Reglamento General de Circulación, will come into force on October 1.

Cristina Chirtes
Cristina Chirtes
© Vehicles with more than nine seats must inform passengers regarding restraining devices

02.10.2015 - The regulations aim to simplify those that already existed and cover four main areas:

1. Children under 1.35m in height have to sit in the back of the car: Children cannot sit in the front seats until they are over 18-years-old or taller than 135cm.   The only exception is if all of the room in the rear is already taken up with child seats, in which case children can sit in the front in an authorised seat or restraint that is suitable for the child’s height and weight.

2.  Each child seat or restraint must be fitted according to manufacturer’s instructions.  This particularly refers to the direction that the seat should face: a forward-facing chair should be used as such, etc.  The only exception is one that is placed on the front passenger seat as it’s illegal to have a rear-facing child seat in the front of a car that has airbags which are not disabled.  This is due to the risk of severe or even fatal injury that may occur from the force of an airbag being deployed during an accident.   When using forward-facing ones, the airbag can remain active but it is advisable to move the car's seat as far back as it will go.

3. To clarify the situation for when riding in taxis with children, it has now been stated that minors may travel in the back of taxis without a child seat or restraint, but only in urban areas, i.e. villages, towns and cities.  For out-of-town journeys, child seats / restraints must still be used.

4. In vehicles which have a total of more than nine seats it is now mandatory for the driver (or those responsible) to inform all passengers of the need to wear seatbelts or use a child seat or restraint.  This must be done via notices, pictograms or audiovisual methods which must be clearly visible from each seat.

The rules also reiterate the need for all other passengers to wear a seat belt at all times.  Any infraction of that or the above will now be considered as serious and can carry fines of several hundred euros and the loss of points from the licence. 

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Cristina Chirtes 
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