Children should be placed in the rear seat of the car. Not only are booster seats or child seats illegal in the front seat (in certain states), but it is also illegal for children (under a certain age, height) to be in the front seat of a vehicle in certain jurisdictions as well. Due to the nature of car accidents, the impact, and the fact that severe damage and injury to the person can occur, vehicle manufacturers typically have age limit/requirements, as it pertains to children being able to sit in the front seat. And, it is not only the vehicle manufacturer, but many states/jurisdictions also impose restrictions, because of the impact and injury which can occur to a child in the front seat.
Why are restrictions in place?
First off, the airbag in the passenger front seat will automatically open in certain vehicles. An airbag can puncture a child’s lung, cause disfigurement, can pose threats which possibly limit their ability to breath/move/get out of the vehicle (in the event the car ignites or passengers instantly should get out of the vehicle). The high impact is simply too much for a child, whereas this is not the case for an adult. For this reason, most manufacturers have strict guidelines and warnings in place (strategically placed in several areas of the car), warning against children sitting in the front seat.
When can they ride in the front seat?
For some parents, it is a “judgement call.” For those who are well informed, it is typically when the child’s feet can reach the floor (flat, without being on the tiptoes). Again, every vehicle will have height restrictions, age guidelines, and other safety cues to help inform parents when it is safe for a child to sit in the front seat. If a booster or child seat is still required (if the child’s feet don’t go past the end of the seat), it is of course wise to place them in the back seat of the vehicle. Every child (and parent) is different. Using sound judgement, obeying state laws (where you live), and vehicle warnings/restrictions/guidelines, are the best practices to ensuring safety, and to make sure your child isn’t injured (or limits injury) when an accident does occur if they are in the vehicle.
This is a touchy topic for many parents and drivers in general. For this very reason, there are many laws in place, and each state/jurisdiction has its own set of laws, to help prevent injury, fatality, and help prevent children from being involved in the middle of major accidents. A lawyer will not only inform individuals of these laws, but can also help parents/drivers who are involved in an accident if their child is in the car (front or rear seat). Although you don’t want to consider an accident when your child is with you (or at all for that matter), the simple fact is they occur. These are a few reasons to adhere to child safety laws, front seat protocol, and to know your rights as a driver, if an accident does occur, where you (and/or your child), are injured.