When can kids ride in the front seat? It’s a question a lot of parents get asked by kids, and probably ask themselves.
There is not one universal, overarching rule around it. Most states do not have laws related to the front passenger seat. However, some vehicle manufacturers do have guidelines for that particular vehicle on the front seat visors or in its manual.
3 Reasons To Delay Riding in the Front Seat Until Age 13:
1. BONE DENSITY
The recommendation is not necessarily based on kids’ size, but rather their bone density. Thirteen is the average age in which their bone density has developed enough to withstand the impact of an airbag. Airbags deploy within 1/20th of a second — creating a serious amount of force. So, this means that even if your kids are tall enough to ride without a booster seat — meaning, 4’9” tall — they should still sit in the back until their bones are dense enough. Also remember that this is the height that allows the seatbelt to be positioned properly over their shoulder.
2. AIRBAG POSITIONING
Airbags and cars were designed for adult passengers. Therefore, if your child is not at least 4’9” tall, the airbag could hit them in the face, chest or neck, causing serious injuries.
According to the AAP, studies show that kids riding in the front seat compared with children in the rear have an elevated risk of injury that ranges from 40-70%, depending on the time period and characteristics of the group. However, the risk of injury becomes equal to adults once kids are 13 years old.
Once kids are older and bigger, where kids ride in the car is ultimately up to the parent’s discretion. I hope that this information will help parents delay riding in the front seat until age 13.