‘Anti-abandonment’ child car seats become compulsory in Italy

New alarmed seats are now a legal requirement in Italy after multiple cases of young children being forgotten by parents and dying inside hot cars.

'Anti-abandonment' child car seats become compulsory in Italy
Photo: DepositPhotos

A new law making it obligatory for parents to use the special car seats when travelling with young children came into force on Thursday, the Ansa news agency reports.

The seats, which set off an alarm if the child is left alone in the car, are obligatory for children up to the age of four.

The alarms reportedly alert the driver to the fact a child is in the seat through vibrating audio and visual signals, detectable from inside and outside the vehicle.
The law was first proposed last year in response to several shocking cases of small children dying after being left in cars by their parents in scorching heat.

In the most recent case in September 2019, a two-year-old boy in Catania died after his father reportedly forget he was in the car and went to work, leaving the child locked inside.

From today, parents found not using the alarms face a fine of up to €326 plus five points on their driving licence, according to the new law.

Parents are being advised to buy a new seat that features the alarm system, or an alarm which can be fitted onto existing seats.

Italian road safety group ASAPS told the Ansa news agency that “parents, grandparents and carers need to hurry” to acquire the alarms after the law was rushed through, coming into force within just 15 days of it being added to the highway code, instead of the planned 120 days.

There are provisions in the government's 2020 budget bill for a 30-euro contribution towards each purchase.

However ASAPS noted that the funding made available will “not be sufficient for all children” and will only cover around one-quarter of children who'll require the seats, which the group said usually cost between €50-100.

The group added that the government funding isn't directed at “those with low incomes or those with several children under the age of 4″ but will go to “those who will be fastest.”

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TRAFFIC: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this July

Heatwaves and traffic jams are not a good mix - but both are inevitable during an Italian summer. Here are the busiest dates to avoid when travelling on Italy's motorways this month.

TRAFFIC: The worst dates to travel on Italy's roads this July

Italy’s autostrade (motorways) usually see little in the way of heavy traffic, at least outside of the major cities.

But in summer that all changes, as everyone escapes the baking hot cities for the cooler air of the mountains or the coast.

Not only do motorways become much busier, but many smaller roads, particularly in coastal areas and around holiday hotspots, become completely clogged with traffic.

The increased number of vehicles on the road isn’t just inconvenient: it can also be dangerous, with traffic deaths rising by an estimated seven percent in August.

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

That’s why the Italian government issues warnings each year advising motorists to avoid peak travel times, and even publishes its own calendar showing when traffic is predicted to be at its worst.

The official forecast, produced as part of the ‘Viabilità Italia’ summer travel plan drawn up by the government, emergency services, and and state road agency ANAS, notes particularly busy dates to avoid.

The calendar is colour coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ (i.e., dire) traffic. 

No ‘black’ days have been predicted for July, but there are plenty of ‘red’ spots: the forecast says drivers can expect to experience heavy traffic on weekends throughout July with conditions worsening towards the end of the month.

Italy July traffic calendar warning
Italy’s July traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato.

The roads are predicted to be particularly crowded (a ‘red’ level warning) on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the government’s forecast shows.

Traffic is expected to get heavier on the weekend between Friday 22nd and Sunday 24th July, with highways especially clogged throughout the whole of Sunday 24th.

READ ALSO: How will Italy’s Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

The situation is then due to worsen further the following weekend, with the roads starting to fill up from the morning of Friday 29th and a ‘red’ warning appearing from Friday afternoon until the end of Sunday, July 31st.

The last weekend of July is traditionally the date of the first ‘mass exodus’ away from cities as many Italians start their summer holidays.

Traffic is expected to remain at normal levels during the working week (bar Friday afternoons) throughout the month of July.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

While the highways are likely to be jammed at various points over the next few weekends, July is still a better time to travel than in August, when Italians begin their holidays and travel en masse to the beach. 

ANAS has yet to issue its forecast for August, but in previous years there have been multiple ‘black’ weekends warning of hours-long stationary traffic jams, particularly around the main Ferragosto summer holiday on August 15th.