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Why wearing a seatbelt is so vital for ALL car occupants! 

Tráfico is now intensifying its checks on the use of seat belts and child protection in cars; this is to help reduce the amount of deaths or serious injuries. Failure to use a seat belt, if stopped will be considered a serious offence and a fine of 200 euros will be issued along with the loss of 3 points from your licence.

Why should you use a seat belt? The main reason is to reduce the risk of death or serious injury in the event of an accident however there are several other benefits:

• A seat belt is meant to be worn in conjunction with the vehicles airbags as by themselves the airbag cannot complete its job.

• A seat belt stops the occupant from leaving the vehicle, and also stops an impact with the screen.

• A seat belt reduces by half the severity of some injures for both the driver and any passengers.

• A frontal impact accident at 80 km/h without a seat belt will most likely result in death or very serious injuries.

• In the event of a frontal impact where the occupants of the rear seats are not wearing a seat belt, there are eight times more likely to impact another occupant.

• Using a seat belt reduces the risk of injury in a small accident by up to five times.

If however you have children in the vehicle without a seatbelt, the adult is always responsibility. With the changes in the law the police are also now allowed to immobilise a vehicle that is carrying a minor without the appropriate child restraint system, as well as prohibiting the minor from sitting in the front seat in certain circumstances. Minors under the age of 12 and under 1.35m are not permitted to travel in the front seat of a car unless they are using the appropriate homologated child restraint system, which is suitable for their age and height. Children under the age of 12 that are taller than 1.35m are permitted to sit in the front seat but must use the appropriate seatbelt.

Child restraint systems must comply with the ECE R44 and have the appropriate homologation labels on them. As a guideline the different stages of child restraint systems are as follow:

1. Group 0 and 0+, new-borns to approximately 13 kilos. The child seat must be rear facing and must have a five-point harness. The seat must be changed once the child reaches 13 kilos or the head is taller than the seat. If the seat is to be placed on the front seat the vehicles airbag must be switched off.

2. Group 1, (approximate ages 1-4 years) from 9 to 18 kilos. The child seat must contain head support and a five-point harness.

3. Group 2 and 3, (approximate ages 4-12 years) from 15 to 36 kilos. This restraint system is either a simple booster or a booster with added spinal protection; the aim of the seat is to elevate the child so the normal seatbelt can be used. Remember the diagonal part of the seat belt must pass over the collarbone and shoulder without touching the neck and the horizontal part of the seat belt must sit as low as possible around the hips NEVER around the stomach.

The kilos and ages for babies stated above are guidelines as no two children are the same weight at the same age.