How do you buckle up your children safely and correctly in the car? The time has come to briefly explain children’s car seat rules
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Just one in two parents or grandparents checks to see if his or her child or grandchild is actually properly secure for each car ride. From a survey carried out among 500 drivers in July 2017 by Ipsos, commissioned by the VSV (Flemish Foundation for Traffic Engineering), it appears that one in three drivers even admits to not always using a child car seat. And yet ensuring that children are properly secure is a matter of life and death!
It’s the same as for shoes or clothing
Up until now, your child’s weight determined selection of the correct car seat group for him or her:
- Group 0 (up to 9 kg)
- Group 0+ (up to 13 kg)
- Group 1 (9 to 18 kg)
- Group 2 (15 to 25 kg)
- Group 3 (22 to 36 kg)
These car seats remain in use, but starting in 2018 it is only the new child car seats conforming to the so-called i-Size-norm that will be sold from now on, classified according to the child’s height instead of the weight group he or she belongs to. From now on, in the same way that you child’s size determines the size of his or her shoes or clothes, this same principle will apply to children’s car seats. The manufacturer reports which body height is appropriate for which car seat. Check here to see which specifications are included on the official label of approval attached to child car seats.
Smaller than 1.35 metres?
- The general rule in Belgium is such that children smaller than 1.35 metres must ride at all times in a specific child car seat (in most neighbouring countries this is set at 1.5 metres).
- Is your child younger than 15 months or smaller than 85 cm? If so, then, in addition, the car seat must be installed as a backwards-facing seat. The neck and head are then better protected against the impact of a collision. Don’t forget to deactivate the front air bag (using a button or lock) when driving against the traffic if you have a child car seat installed in the passenger seat.
- As soon as your child’s head sticks out above the edge of the car seat or your child weighs more than the maximum permitted weight of the car seat, then it’s time to switch to a larger car seat.
Larger than 1.35 metres?
Children who are bigger than 1.35 metres are permitted, regardless of age, to sit in the car either in a child car seat or on an ordinary car seat (with safety belt engaged). Until such time that your child reaches a weight of 36 kg, it is recommended that you use a booster seat because your child’s pelvis is not yet strong enough to adequately withstand the pressure of a safety belt. Car seats are available with our without back support, but the latter provide somewhat better protection.
A few exceptions
- You may transport as many children by car as there are safety belts present for each passenger. The back seat often appears too small for the installation of three car seats. When there are already two children’s car seats in use, a third child smaller than 1.35 metres may also sit on the back seat with a safety belt fastened; however, the child does have to be at least three years of age.
- How to fit enough car seats in also isn’t always so straight-forward when you need to take someone else’s child along unexpectedly. As it stands, you are not permitted to transport children under three without an child car seat. Children more than three years old may under exceptional circumstances ride along, if they are sitting in the back seat, with a safety belt firmly fastened. Children of your own who are smaller than 1.35 metres must always be seated in a child car seat.