Experts, car manufacturers, and even laws encourage parents to sit their kids in the front or rear-facing car seats at the back. But, till when?
Children should sit in the front seat only when they’re 13 or above. Before that, they should sit in the child safety seat. The safety car seats come with a lap belt or restraints that keep the baby comfortable during the car ride.
However, the age limit of 13 might vary from one state to another. Today, I’ll share the laws of certain states, the dangers of putting your child in the front seat, and tips on reducing the chances of injury in case you must put your child in the front seat.
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Laws of Different States Regarding Children Sitting in the Front Seat
In general, it’s safe to allow kids who are 13 or above 13 to sit in the front seat, but the law might differ from state to state. The following are laws of different seats regarding this issue.
In California, you can allow your child to sit in the front seat as long as the child is 8 or above and has a height of 4 feet and 9 inches. Then again, the law also encourages parents to put their children in a booster seats with appropriate child restraint systems.
Children younger than 13 years of age aren’t allowed to sit in the front seat in New York. The state law also encourages the use of shoulder belts for children up to 15 years of age.
The laws are much more strict in Texas. Firstly, kids under 13 can’t use the front seat of a car. Moreover, kids under 18 should always use an adult seat belt properly.
Dangers of Riding in the Front Seat for Young Children
Here, I’ll share some of the dangers a child sitting in the front seat will face. Let’s get right to it.
Airbags Aren’t Safe for Kids
Airbags are essential for vehicle safety, but they can end up injuring your child instead. This is because airbags in passenger vehicles are designed keeping adults in mind.
The reaction time of passenger airbags is only 1/20th of a second. So, the opening window is extremely narrow, so the passenger can be saved from injury.
However, this fast deployment accompanies extreme force. Once subjected to this force, a child is likely to experience serious injury.
Risk of Injury
In the year 2020, more than 63,000 children ages 12 and below suffered from severe injuries such as head injuries, while 607 died from motor vehicle crashes.
While there isn’t any data on how many of them were sitting in the front seat, we know that front seats increase the chances of injury and death in a car accident.
This is why children shouldn’t be put in the front passenger seat. Even if they sit there, proper usage of the seat belt must be ensured to limit the damage.
Different states permit children of different age limits to use the front seat, but generally, the threshold is 13 years. But what happens if you don’t comply?
Firstly, you’ll get pulled over if the officer notices that you aren’t abiding by the child passenger safety laws. Secondly, depending on the state and your luck, you might have to pay a non-compliance fine of $75.
Seat Belts Don’t Fit Properly
A seat belt, just like the airbag in your vehicle, is designed for adult passengers. Children who have grown at least age 13, or have a height of 4 feet and 9 inches, can fit into an adult seat belt perfectly.
Until that, the seat belt fits the child very loosely, which isn’t safe at all. This is why parents must put their child in a child’s car seat till the kid has grown enough.
Risks Respiratory Problems
While air conditioners can be refreshing to adults sitting in the front seat, they can be harmful to children.
Long-term exposure to the direct flow of air conditioners in such close proximity can trigger health issues such as Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma, Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, etc. in children.
Guide to Keeping Child Passengers Safe Even in Front Seat
I’ll be honest with you, it’s not possible to keep children 100% safe during front-seat riding, but it’s possible to reduce the dangers to some extent. The safety tips are as follows –
Adjust the Seat
Start off by positioning the seat as far as possible from the dashboard. With the seat pushed to the farthest corner, the child will have better chances of avoiding any injury from head-to-head collisions.
Turn the Air Bags off
The passenger airbag must be turned off to maximize the safety of the child. As explained earlier, the front airbag can be injurious to children, although it can protect adults. So, make sure to turn them off when your child is sitting in the front car seats.
Use Restraints Properly
The children must be properly buckled when they’re in the front car seat. Make sure the shoulder belts are buckled and attached properly.
Use a Car Seat or Booster Seats
If the child isn’t old and tall enough to use the adult seat belts, use a booster seat. A booster seat of the car offers a combination of comfortable shoulder restraints and lap-only belts. This will ensure both safety and comfort of your child.
Other than the booster seat, there are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, etc. Rear-facing car seat is considered the safest for toddlers, but they aren’t appropriate for kids over the age of 2.
At this point, you’ll need to switch to a forward-facing car seat due to weight and height limits.
Despite the risks associated with children sitting in the front seat, many parents choose to be oblivious to safety practices. To ensure maximum safety, knowing when kids can sit in front is important, along with proper car seat use.
Depending on the height limits and weight limits of your child, you must get appropriate car seats. A child shouldn’t ride in the front seat of the car unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even if you do, make sure to follow our safety tips.
Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Danny Reid