Traveling in a camper with children can be a memorable experience for the whole family. However, ensuring the safety of the little ones during the journey is essential. Proper use of car seats is crucial to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.
In Italy, road safety laws are strict, and this applies even when traveling in a camper. The use of car seats for children is mandatory, just like in traditional vehicles.
The importance of car seats in campers and safety regulations
Car seats are mandatory for children during camper journeys. Like in a car, it’s essential for children to use seats appropriate for their weight from their first journey until they reach 1.50 meters in height or weigh 36 kilograms. Once they surpass 1.50 meters in height or reach 36 kilograms, usually around 12 years old, minors should use regular seat belts.
It’s important to note that the presence of Isofix systems on front and rear seats is rare in campers, including the latest models. In case your camper is not equipped with Isofix, it’s crucial to ensure that the car seat can be properly secured using the three-point seatbelt, checking its availability in your vehicle.
It’s important to note that the number of passengers on board the camper cannot exceed that specified in the circulation manual. However, it’s possible that the vehicle has more sleeping places than the number of passengers indicated in the manual.
It’s crucial and mandatory for safety, as well as extremely dangerous, not to secure children with car seats or seat belts during camper travel. Holding children in one’s arms or moving freely in the camper while traveling towards the destination, be it to use the bathroom, grab something from the fridge, or perform other activities, is prohibited. Sleeping in beds during the journey is forbidden and poses a severe risk to young children’s safety.
European standards for child restraint systems: ECE R44 vs. ECE R129 (i-Size)
Since 2017, there have been two European approval standards for restraint systems: ECE R44 based on the child’s weight and ECE R129 (i-Size) classifying devices based on height. Always verify the presence of the ECE R129 or ECE R44 approval label on the devices.
If you already own an ECE R44 car seat, it’s not mandatory to replace it according to the new ECE R129 standards. The i-Size regulation also includes protection against side impacts and requires ISOFIX attachment for products intended for younger children (up to 105 cm in height).
Installing the car seat in the camper
It’s crucial to select a seat suitable for the child’s age and weight. These seats must be securely anchored to the camper seat using 3-point seat belts and should not have excessive movement. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions scrupulously to ensure correct installation.
Is it possible to install a car seat on the front passenger seat? Like in a car, it’s allowed to place child car seats on the front seat of the camper. However, in cases where the child has a rear-facing car seat, it’s essential to deactivate the airbag for that seat.
Safety for children traveling rear-facing: traveling rear-facing provides 5 times more safety for children. It significantly reduces the risk of injuries in case of an accident even at 50 km/h. A child facing forward at this speed has a 40% risk of severe injuries, while one facing rearward has only an 8% risk. Appropriate car seats ensure comfort and safety, conforming to children’s physique. In Sweden, where road safety is high, it’s practiced up to 4-6 years. Europe is revising directives, inspired by this model, to better protect young passengers.
Choosing the car seat in the camper
In Italy, the law stipulates that children should travel rear-facing up to 9 kg in weight, in line with ECE R44 regulations, or up to a maximum age of 15 months, according to the most recent provisions introduced by the i-Size regulation. However, traveling in this position for as long as possible (up to 7 years) offers five times more safety for children.
ECE 129 (i-Size) regulations have introduced the requirement of a backrest for all car seats intended for children under 125 cm in height (for newly developed products) and require the use of rear-facing car seats up to 15 months of age.
- Group 0: carrycots (from birth up to 10 kg) must be placed transversely on the rear seats if approved (the vast majority of carrycots do not perform well in crash tests);
- Group 0+: infant carriers (from birth up to 13 kg) must be placed on the rear seats always facing rearward, with the airbag deactivated if present;
- Group 1: children from 9 to 18 kg must be placed on the rear seats facing forward only;
- Group 2: children from 15 to 25 kg should have their car seats placed on either front or rear seats facing forward;
- Group 3: children from 22 to 36 kg should have their car seats placed on either front or rear seats facing forward.
The requirement of anti-abandonment devices in campers
The anti-abandonment device is mandatory for all children up to 4 years old, regardless of their weight and height, but only in vehicles registered in Italy and for residents of the country.
These devices function as sensors that detect the child’s weight and signal their presence inside the car. In case of potential abandonment, the system immediately notifies the parent’s mobile phone and other emergency numbers previously entered during installation.
Practical tips for camper trips
- Planning: arrange for frequent stops during the trip to allow children to move and rest;
- Entertainment: bring games, books, or movies to entertain children during the journey;
- Temperature awareness: ensure the temperature inside the camper is comfortable for young passengers.
Traveling in a camper with children can be an enchanting experience. Ensuring their safety during the journey is crucial, and the proper use of car seats in compliance with Italian regulations is a priority.
Choosing the right car seat and following road safety laws will ensure a pleasant and safe trip for the entire family, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of Italy in a camper to the fullest.
Always remember: safe driving is the foundation for a happy and memorable journey in a camper with your little adventurers!