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When Can Kids Start Riding in the Front Seat?

When can kids start riding in the front seat

We all probably remember the time when we were kids when our parents finally allowed us to ride in the front seat. It’s a big deal and something new and exciting. When we think about how thrilled we were, we often can’t wait until our own kids are big enough to ride up front with us, too.

But, these days especially, there are more and more news stories and articles outlining the dangers of upgrading car seats for kids at too early of an age or improperly securing the car seats they have. After all, the safety of our children is our top priority. So, when can kids start riding in the front seat?

In this post, we’ll look at what the laws say regarding age restrictions on child passengers in cars and what you can do to keep your kids safe on the road.

Child Passenger Safety Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Child Passenger Protection Laws have no specific statement regarding at what age a child can begin to ride in the front seat of a vehicle. The law does state the following:

All children under 8 years of age should be in an approved child restraint or booster when the child is riding anywhere in a motor vehicle, including the cargo area. The car seat or booster seat may be in any seating position in the vehicle that is equipped with a seat belt. It also states that for maximum protection, a back seat is preferable.

Drivers found to be in violation of transporting children younger than age 8 in an approved car seat will be fined $75, plus additional court costs, a surcharge, EMS fund, and administrative costs.

So, according to the law, any child under the age of 8 can ride in the front seat of a vehicle, as long as they are properly secured in an approved car seat. Additionally, any driver and front seat passenger should wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt.

It’s important to understand that even if the law does not specify an age restriction for kids riding in the front seat of a vehicle, that doesn’t mean it is safe for them to do so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that all children aged 12 and younger should ride in the back seat. It also says that infants in rear-facing child safety seats should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active passenger-side front airbag.

Resources for Keeping Our Kids Safe

As drivers, we want to ensure that we are safe and follow the laws of the road, and as parents, we want to ensure that our children are as protected as possible while riding in our vehicles. Data from the NHTSA shows that 1,184 children aged 14 and younger were killed in traffic crashes in 2021; of those, 40% were unrestrained.

It’s important to keep our kids safe in approved and properly secured car seats, but knowing which car seat is the right one for your child or how to install it correctly can be confusing. Luckily, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has resources available for parents and caregivers.

There are car seat checking and fitting stations located all around the state where a certified child passenger safety technician is available to inspect your child’s seat and show you how to use and install it correctly.

But, as you probably know, car seats can be expensive, and it can be a challenge to find an approved car seat that’s the right fit for your child when you’re on a budget. Funded by PennDOT, the PA Traffic Injury Prevention Project (PA TIPP) has car seat loan programs available at multiple approved agencies throughout Pennsylvania to provide loaner car seats for those who need them.

Knowing the law and understanding what resources you have available is vital to your child’s safety, but even having the most secure car seat and driving as safely as we can on the road, accidents still happen.

If you and your child have been involved in a vehicle collision in Philadelphia, or if you have questions or concerns about car seats or Pennsylvania’s Child Passenger Protection Laws, our legal team at Shrager, Sachs, & Blanco is here to help. We have the expertise necessary to handle your case and answer any questions you may have. An initial consultation with our lawyers is always free.

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