When you first have a kid, the rules for car seats are everywhere. How they should be strapped in, which way they are facing and the weight requirements are the top car-safety priority. As the parent of a pre-teen, I realize how far removed I am from updated car seat, booster seat and passenger rules.
Recently, my ten-year-old asked me if he could sit in the front passenger seat of our car. I told him no. He is too small and the airbag, if it deployed, could seriously injure him. He proceeded to tell me that a number of his friends ride in the front seat.
Now, I come from a time (the 80s) where my mom’s arm across my chest was my abrupt front-seat seatbelt.
These days, the rules can seem extreme. I have occasionally wondered if I should be a rear-facing booster seat in the back of my OWN CAR. I know the rules are for a reason though.
(Paraphrasing) Children who ride in the back seat are 33% less likely to endure serious injury during an accident… The use of a booster seat decreases childhood injury by 59%.https://www.livestrong.com/article/560398-rules-in-ohio-on-kids-riding-in-the-front-seat/
So what are the rules? How big or old should my child be before they can sit in the front seat?
According to the Center for Disease Control, the following rules should be followed to keep children safe in a car.
Use a rear-facing car seat until ages 2-4 or whenever the child grows out of it.
Use a front-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when the child grows out of it if older.
Use a booster seat in the BACK SEAT until the child is 4 foot 9 inches AND 13 years old.
Sometimes there is no other choice. If the vehicle only has a front seat, or if smaller children are prioritized to sit in the back, then the child in the front should at LEAST be as far back from the dashboard as the seat moves. Don’t recline, just slide it back. The seat should also be elevated so that the across-the-shoulder restraint comes across the child’s chest, not neck.
For more information, or if you don’t believe the guidelines in this post, check out CDC article below.