When Can Kids Sit In The Front Seat?

When Can Kids Sit In The Front Seat?

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As a parent, you always want to ensure your kid’s safety and well-being at all times. Whether you are looking after your kid at home or taking your little one outside, there is always a lot you have to keep in mind. And one such concern that most moms share is how to keep your child safe while he is traveling in an automobile.

If you want to know how to keep your kid safe in the car, especially the right time for your kid to start sitting in the front seat, do read on the article: when can kids sit in the front seat?

When Can Kids Sit In The Front Seat?

The right age at which your kid can safely sit in the front seat will depend on several factors, one of which is the law that is regulated by the state you live in. Even though each state may have a different set of rules about when your kid can sit in the front seat, the rules may not always be the safest.

  • Most laws that states will base their judgments depend on factors such as your kid’s age, height, and weight. For instance, there are many states that allow kids as young as six years to wear a seat belt and not necessarily sit in a child car seat.
  • However, going by your kid’s age may not always be the best way to judge the safety standard, as your kid may or may not be of a particular height that could be considered safe.
  • For instance, there are some states that say that your kid should measure at least 4’9’’ in height and weigh at least 80 pounds to safely move out from the child car seat and into the regular car seat. It is a far better and safer way to judge the safety factor that your kid will have while sitting alone in a regular car seat.

[ Read: Child Passenger Safety ]

Taking The Seat Belt Fit Test:

To understand if your kid can now safely sit in the front seat and out of the child car seat, you can always take the seat belt fit test. Here are a few steps that you can follow to ascertain whether or not your kid will be safe sitting alone in the front seat with a car seat belt:

  • Check if the belt of the vehicle lap fits all the way across your kid’s upper thigh. If the answer is yes, your kid will pass this first step.
  • The shoulder belt of the car should fit properly across your kid’s shoulder and the chest. If the answer is yes, your kid will pass this step.
  • Make your kid sit properly with the bottom and the back touching the back of the car’s seat. If your kid can bend the knees comfortably at the edge of the seat, it means your kid has passed this step too.
  • If your kid can sit in the above-mentioned position through the duration of the entire trip, it means that your kid has passed the final step of the test too.

If, however, your kid has not been able to meet any of the steps mentioned above, it means that your kid will still have to wait to sit without a booster car seat. It also means that your kid is not of the right height or age to sit alone in the front seat.

Tips To Keep In Mind Before Your Kid Can Sit In The Front Seat:

Your kid will always want to sit alone in the front seat as it will immediately make your kid feel like a grown-up. Coming out of the child car seat is an achievement in itself and your kid will be impatient to do so. For you as a parent, it may feel easy just to buckle your kid in the car seat instead of trying to reason it out each time you have to drive out.

Also, you may feel that as long as your kid is right next to you, even if it is not in a child car seat, your kid will be safe. However, before you think of letting your kid sit alone in the front seat and without a child car seat, keep the following safety tips in mind:

1. Wait Till Your Kid Enters The Teen Years:

  • It may sound a little too much but one of the safest times to actually allow your kid to move on alone to the front seat is after your kid has entered the teen years.
  • In case the car is involved in a collision,the child sitting in front seat can be thrown on to the dashboard, or can even be thrown out through the windshield.
  • It is possible that you have made sure that your kid is sitting safely with the seat belt buckled and in place. However, there is also a chance that if your kid is sitting in the front seat, the damage will be much higher in the case of a collision than if your kid is sitting in the middle seat.
  • There is always the risk of outside objects intruding inside the car and harming your kid. It is a higher possibility if your kid is sitting in the front seat than if your kid is sitting in the middle seat at the back.
  • Your kid will be safer in the front seat as a teen, as it is also the time when there is lesser chance of suffering any injury from an exploding air bag. In the event of a crash, your car’s air bag will immediately explode and can hurt your kid in the front seat.

[ Read: Road Safety Rules For Kids ]

2. Follow Child Car Safety Laws Of Your State:

  • In the case of a collision where the car gets rear-ended, a kid sitting in the front seat will have a higher chance of being injured, which can sometimes also be fatal. A kid who is sitting in the front seat and is not tall enough to sit with a car seat belt alone can often slip in from under the seat belt and suffer maximum impact and injury.
  • Even if your kid has grown out of the booster seat and is not able to sit comfortably in the child car seat, it is safer to sit in the back seat with a seat belt till the teen years.
  • Depending on where you live, your state or local authorities will have specific laws about when your kid can safely sit in the front seat of the car.
  • Most of the car safety laws are very specific and will spell out in detail the height, weight and age requirement for your kid to be legally allowed to sit in the front seat.
  • For instance, in the state of Colorado, your kid has to be at least 5 feet tall or at least 11 years old before it is safe to sit in the front seat alone.
  • Most states have different laws regarding your kid’s car riding safety, so make sure you are familiar with the laws in your state.
  • If you are not sure how to go about it, you can always speak to your local law enforcement personnel or police officer to know more about the specific height, age and weight requirements for your kid before it is safe to sit alone in the front seat.
  • In some cases, the state law will allow your kid to ride in the front seat even if your kid does not meet the specified height, age and weight regulations. It is particularly possible in cases where you are driving an automobile in which there are no other safe seats for your kid to ride in, and the only seat available is the front seat.

3. If There Are No Other Appropriate Seats Available In The Ride:

  • For instance, if you are riding a pickup truck, it may be difficult for your kid to sit in the back of the car.
  • In such an instance, it may be okay for your kid to sit in the front seat using a regular seat belt.
  • Also, if you have multiple kids sitting in the car, it is possible that there are not enough seats at the back. In such an instance, your state law officials may allow you to place one of the kids in the front seat.
  • If you know that you will have to make your kid sit in the front seat, make sure to first get the airbag off before you let your kid sit there.

4. Only If The Airbags Are Not Operational Or Are Turned Off:

  • Many cars come with the option of having an on and off switch that will allow you to switch off your car’s air bag system. In case your car does not have that feature, you can always take your car to the dealership and ask the staff to disable or deactivate the air bag feature.
  • Some cars also have a feature known as the ‘smart air bag’ in which case the air bag will only explode after it detects the body weight of the passenger sitting on the front seat. In such an instance, if the car feature does not detect a body weight that is more than a certain pre-programmed amount, the air bag will not explode.
  • There are some state car safety sites that will also share a list of the companies that install on and off switches for air bags.
  • Once your kid has crossed the height that is suitable for a child car seat, you should first see the height of your kids and determine who is the tallest. In such a case where you have multiple kids, the kid who is the tallest will be the safest to sit in the front seat.
  • Also, once you are sure that your kid is sitting comfortably in the front seat, move back the seat to keep it as far from the dashboard as possible. It will help to prevent any injury to your kid in case there is a collision, in the event of which your kid may end up being smashed against the dashboard.

[ Read: School Bus Safety Rules For Kids ]

Height Regulations For Your Kid To Sit In The Front Seat:

Here are some of the height regulations that you need to follow before you place your kid in the front seat:

  • In most states, the average height regulation that your kid should follow before allowed to sit in the front seat is four feet and nine inches. It is also the minimum height regulation that is specified for your kid to be seated in the front seat.
  • Some states do not specify a particular age at which your kid can sit safely on the front seat but instead follow only the height guidelines.
  • The reason that most states specifically lay more emphasis on the height regulation is that it is the biggest factor that will help your kid to avoid injury in case of an accident.
  • If your kid is sitting on the rear seat instead of the front seat, the risk of being affected in the event of an accident fall by approximately 33 percent.
  • If your kid is below the suggested safety height, it can result in some grievous injuries from the air bag when it explodes in an accident. Once the air bag inflates in the event of a crash, it can directly hit your kid with a lot of force on the face, chest, head or neck. The force of the exploding airbag can be equivalent to a car moving at the speed of 90 to 120 miles an hour. It can be so strong that it can also cause fatal injuries to your kid or result in decapitation.

Safety Tips You Should Always Follow Before Letting Your Kid Sit In The Front Seat:

Make sure you always follow these safety rules before allowing your kid to sit in the front seat:

  • Never let your kid sit on the front seat without first wearing the seat belt.
  • Make sure that you strap on both the shoulder strap as well as the lap belt on your kid before allowing your kid to sit on the front seat.
  • Also, make sure that the shoulder belt does not cut across your kid’s neck.
  • Do not put the shoulder belt behind your kid’s back.

FAQs Related To Letting Your Kid Sit In The Front Seat:

Here are a few questions you may have about letting your kid sit in the front seat. Have a look:

1. Is It Alright To Put A Forward Facing Child Seat In The Front Seat If There Is A Passenger Air Bag?

Yes, you can place your kid in a child car seat in the front seat even there is a passenger air bag there but try and avoid it as much as possible. If you do not have a choice, push back your kid’s seat as far away from the front as you can. However, make sure that no matter what the circumstances, do not place a rear facing child seat on the front seat, especially when it has an active airbag.

2. Will A Three-Point Lap And Diagonal Seat Belt Be Better Than A Belt Which Is Lap-Only?

Yes, a three-point lap and diagonal seat belt will be safer for your kid than a belt which is lap-only, as it will provide greater protection to your kid in the case of an accident. Also, it is better to secure your kid in a lap belt than not putting on any belt at all. Do make sure that the belt fits properly across the top of your kid’s thighs and around your kid’s hips. It should not go across your kid’s stomach, as in the case of an accident, it can lead to massive injuries to the internal organs.

[ Read: General Safety Rules For Kids ]

Safety Precautions Related To An Air Bag:

Here are a few things you should know that are related to various safety precautions about an airbag:

  • An air bag can cause a lot of injury to your kid even in the case of a minor accident. In some cases, the injuries can be so severe that it could be fatal.
  • The muscles on the back, neck, and stomach of kids are weaker than those of adults and as a result, they will get more hurt when an airbag explodes as compared to an adult.
  • Your kid’s head will be out of proportion to the rest of the body. As a result, it will be more difficult for your kid to maintain an upright position in case there is a collision. Due to this reason, your kid’s body will move forward when there is an impact, and the impact of the airbag will be higher than in the case of an adult.

To make sure that your kid is safe while traveling in an automobile, you should always follow the safety guidelines to the core. Before you place your kid in the front seat, make sure that you have gone through all the safety regulations. Read the laws that your state specifies and do a thorough check of your car. Switch off the front seat passenger airbag or get it deactivated for the time being.

Moms, when did you first place your kid in the front seat? What were the precautions that you followed? Do share your tips here so that it can help other moms to keep their kids safe too.

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