Article 117 Seat belts and approved child restraint systems

by Mark Nolan

1. The driver and the occupants of vehicles will be obliged to use, correctly fastened, approved seat belts, both on urban and interurban roads. This obligation, which refers to the seat belts, will not be required in those vehicles that do not have them installed.

One of the most common infractions is the passengers located in the rear seats of the vehicle not using their seat belt.  If a vehicle has seat belts, they must be used by all its occupants.


Failure to use a seat belt by rear passengers can result in serious injury to both the person not using it and the occupants located in the front seats.

A collision at low speed could cause serious injuries to the occupants of the vehicle by them not using seat belts. In this case we can see how the passenger forcibly hits their knees against the front seat, something that could cause a serious injury.           


In these other images we can see how the passenger at the rear hits the driver of the vehicle with their head, in turn displacing the front seat with their weight, producing injuries to the driver in the head and knee that could have been avoided.   



When we drive with children in the back seats we should check that they use the restraint system properly, otherwise it could cause injuries, even them being thrown out of the vehicle.

Remember that wearing a jacket or coat reduces seat belt effectiveness in case of collision. This fact is not sanctionable but it is advisable not to wear such garments whilst driving.

Some people, after securing their belts, put it under the arm, claiming discomfort.

Failure to use the seat belt properly is a serious offence, since misuse causes the seat belt to be unable to perform its function, and in case of a collision the person may hit their head against the front seat or dashboard, because they only have the waist part of the seat belt restraining them, which is even more dangerous if we take into account that it may mean there is not time for the airbag to activate, and serious injuries could be caused to the face.    

Those vehicles that, due to their age, do not have seat belts installed in the back seat, does not absolve the driver of the responsibility of wearing their seat belt. It is only in the positions where the seat belt is not installed that their use is not mandatory


If the owner decides to install them voluntarily, then they must use the seat belt.


It is an obligation to have rear seat belts installed in the back of all vehicles registered since 16-06-1992.


There are also vehicles that, due to their age, also lack front seat belts, in this case their installation is not mandatory either. In the photo we see a classic vehicle that lacks seat belts in the front and back.     


In any case, children of a height equal to or less than 135 centimetres must use child restraint systems and be placed in the vehicle in accordance with the provisions of the following sections.

Spanish traffic legislation does not establish the use of child restraint systems depending on the age of the child, but on weight. The ages are approximate.

Should I use the restraint seat facing forwards or backwards?


The Traffic Department advises that when the seats of groups 0 and 0+ are used (up to 13kgs), the seat should be placed facing backwards.


It has been proven that in the case of an collision, placing them rearward facing reduces the risk of serious injuries to the neck. We must take into account that at early ages babies do not have very developed muscles in the cervical area, so in the event of a crash, when in an incorrect posture, it could cause very serious injuries and even death.


The limit to carrying a child in a rear-facing seat is decided by the parents or by the height of the child, since it is not advisable that the child’s feet rest on the back of the rear seat, because it could cause leg injuries in case of a collision.

2. In vehicles with more than nine seats, including the driver, passengers will be informed of the obligation to have seat belts or other approved child restraint systems fastened by the driver, the guide or the person in charge of the group, through audio-visual means or by means of signs or pictograms, according to the model that appears in the annex IV, placed in visible places of each seat.

In these vehicles, the occupants referred to in the second paragraph of section 1 of three or more years must use approved child restraint systems properly adapted to their size and weight. When these systems are not available, they will use seat belts, as long as they are suitable for their size and weight.


3. In vehicles with up to nine seats, including the driver, the occupants referred to in the second paragraph of section 1 must use approved child restraint systems properly adapted to their size and weight.

In order to improve the safety of children’s car seats and their use, and to help chose the most appropriate for height and weight, the i-Size homologation regulation has been created.


This regulation will coexist with the previous regulations, which governed the use of child seats, the ECE R44 standard, which will remain in force until a suitable time allows for it to be replaced.


It also adds new safety standards, for its official approval, among other measures, a new lateral crash test for greater protection of the child against this type of impact.


Transporting children under 135cm not using the approved restraint systems will cause the vehicle to be stopped and it will not be able to continue until it has a child restraint system.


Remember that they must be approved, check the homologation label before buying a child seat. Be well informed before buying online since in some countries outside Europe the label with “E” approval is not required and you could be acquiring a non-legalised retention system for use in Europe by not complying with the security for this territory.

These occupants should be placed in the rear seats. Exceptionally, they may occupy the front seat, provided they use approved child restraint systems properly adapted to their size and weight, in the following cases:


1. When the vehicle does not have rear seats.

2. When all the rear seats are already occupied by the minors referred to in the second paragraph of section 1.

3. When it is not possible to install all the child restraint systems in aforementioned seats.

If the front seats are occupied and the vehicle has a front airbag, rear-facing restraint systems can only be used if the airbag has been deactivated.

Remember that carrying a child of 135cm (or less) sitting in the front when none of the exceptions are given will be considered a serious infraction.


4. The child restraint systems shall be installed in the vehicle always in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer through a manual, brochure or electronic publication. The instructions will indicate how and in what type of vehicles can be used safely.


5. The lack of installation and the non-use of seat belts and other approved child restraint systems will be considered a serious or very serious infraction, in accordance with the provisions of article 65, sections 4.h) and 5.ll ), respectively, of the articulated text.

Both the badly installed retention system and the wrong use of the seat belt, as well as those people that place it under the arm, will be a sanction because if you do not make proper use of the security systems, they lose their effectiveness, that is interpreted as not being used correctly, being a reason for serious sanction.

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