Front seats & big kids
Firstly, the best practice is for children between seven and thirteen to always be seated in the back seat.
The vehicle owner’s manual (VOM) will state these warnings in the seatbelt or airbag section.
Go dig it out from your glove compartment, it’s worth a read!!
Let us talk about your big kid, preteen, booster seat and front seat use.
The internet is full of good meaning information regarding car seat safety, not all this information is correct and depends on what country you are in. This post is concerning Australian legal requirements.
Rarely do we discuss transitioning from the booster seat and what is the best time for your child to move into the next stage being the vehicle seat or front seat.
Legally children over seven (7) years of age can sit on the vehicle seat without a booster and in the front seat, but this comes with many associated risks to the child’s safety.
The associated risks are:
- Incorrect placement of the seatbelt.
- Child’s face and torso can be in the direct path of airbags.
- Your child could possibly kneel up to look out the window causing the seatbelt to be incorrectly positioned.
- Your child may place the seatbelt behind their back or place their arms over the sash portion.
- No head protection and no side impact protection.
Best practice recommendations are for your big kid or pre-teen to be over 142cm tall and 42kgs before transferring the vehicle seat and seatbelt only.
Airbags and seatbelts save lives when used correctly.
Most importantly, as a direct result of incorrect use, the seatbelt and airbags can cause catastrophic injuries where seatbelts do not sit correctly across the child’s torso, hips and where the child’s face is in the direct pathway of the airbag.
Prevention is better than a cure
In addition, preteens and big kids between seven and thirteen (7-13) years of age, can range greatly in size, height and weight. Therefore, allowing your child to sit in the front at seven (7) must not be a one size fits all approach.
Providing your child with optimal seatbelt position and fitment is essential.
Ultimately, your child needs to have optimal seatbelt positioning before you consider allowing them to sit in the front seat and before you agree to allow them to ride without the use of a booster seat.
The must haves:
Your child needs
- Seatbelt sits flat across the thighs & hips. ✅
- Seatbelt sits across the chest and shoulders ✅
- Their back flat against the vehicle seat back ✅
- Knees bend over the front of the vehicle seat ✅
- Feet flat to the vehicle floor ✅
They are ready to use the front seat.
The must nots:
If your child has any of these issues:
- Slouches to place feet on the floor of your vehicle ❌
- Places seatbelt behind their back or both arms over ❌
- Kneels up or used arms to push themselves to see out the window ❌
- Their face is level with dash or door/window frame/airbag ❌
They are NOT ready to sit in the front seat and still require a booster seat.
Lastly, Parents and carers please be very careful and take the time to investigate what is best for your child.
Your child is only young once.
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