When can a child safely sit in the front seat? Weight? Age? Height? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 02-26-2012, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I'm thinking a couple of years off here, but knowing my son I need to get my arguments in a row before he actually hits the milestone. He's one for technicalities and loopholes.

 

Ds is 10, nearly 11 right now. I'm not planning on having him sit in the front seat until he at least hits 13. My dilemma is this: He's a tall, skinny kid. He's 5 feet right now and starting to grow rapidly. He'll probably hit 5'2" or 5'3" in the next 8-10 months. Technically, according to most guidelines I've read, he'd be tall enough for the front seat. Except of course, that his bone structure will be that of an 11 year old.

 

Even after we wait until he turns 13, if his weight/height keeps pace with his current growth curve, he'll be about 95 lbs (fully clothed and dripping wet), and about 5'6" tall at age 13. Is 95 lbs enough to be in the front seat with airbags? What's the minimum weight?

 

 


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#2 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 03:36 AM
 
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The current recommendation is not move to the front seat until age 15. Studies at CHOP show an increase in severe injuries in 13-14 yr olds in the front seat as opposed to 15-18yr olds. The thinking is that puberty causes skeletal changes that put them at greater risk. My older ones don't move to the front seat until age 15. They may be the same size as an adult but their skeletal system isn't the same.

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#3 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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The rule in my car is you have to be over 12, 5'1" and 110 lbs to ride in the front seat *ever.*  So, kids generally ride in the back but for things like car-pooling, the biggest child goes in the front (if they meet the guidelines).  If no kids were that old/big I would say they all had to ride in the back and I could only take 6 versus 7 kids.  DD is in 8th grade, so her or her friends often ride in the front.  DS is in 4th grade and there are none of his friends I would allow to ride in the front.

 

I know the safety guideline is 15, but I have started allowing my 13 year old to fairly regularly ride in the front seat, especially of the Mini Cooper (seat pushed all the way back until it actuallly touches the back seat).  She is over 5'6" and 125 lbs.  It is not *ideal* but I am comfortable *enough* with it.


 

 

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#4 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 01:29 PM
 
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I'll probably start letting my kids ride in front at 13 regardless of weight or height.  In our state you can get your permit at 14 so I think having a year of watching driving from the front seat is going to pay off more in terms of safety than keeping them in the backseat. I have one friend and a relative (my mom) who wouldn't be allowed to sit in the front seat at 26 and 58 based on what people here are saying.


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#5 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 04:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honey693 View Post

I'll probably start letting my kids ride in front at 13 regardless of weight or height.  In our state you can get your permit at 14 so I think having a year of watching driving from the front seat is going to pay off more in terms of safety than keeping them in the backseat. I have one friend and a relative (my mom) who wouldn't be allowed to sit in the front seat at 26 and 58 based on what people here are saying.



Just because they can get a permit at 14 doesn't necessarily mean they should. My state's minimums for getting out of a booster seat are 8yrs or 80 lbs but my 11 yr old can't pass the 5 step test yet so he's still in a booster. And a 26 yr old or 58 yr old's skeletal system is very different from a 14 yr old's. That's what the latest research from CHOP is saying. After 15 yrs old, the incidence of severe injuries from kids sitting in the front seat goes down. So it's not saying a small 26 yr old isn't safe in the front seat.


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#6 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 10:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honey693 View Post

I'll probably start letting my kids ride in front at 13 regardless of weight or height.  In our state you can get your permit at 14 so I think having a year of watching driving from the front seat is going to pay off more in terms of safety than keeping them in the backseat. I have one friend and a relative (my mom) who wouldn't be allowed to sit in the front seat at 26 and 58 based on what people here are saying.



Just to be clear, my rules were the minimum up to 15-16.  So, independent of their size/height/weight I am not going to tell an individual over 15 or so that they have to sit in the back seat.  Of course, with DS I'm not sure I'll ever get him into the front seat since he insists on sitting in the middle seat of our middle row of seats (8 seat mini van) so he can have the safest seat, lol.

 


 

 

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#7 of 13 Old 02-27-2012, 11:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TiredX2 View Post



Just to be clear, my rules were the minimum up to 15-16.  So, independent of their size/height/weight I am not going to tell an individual over 15 or so that they have to sit in the back seat.  Of course, with DS I'm not sure I'll ever get him into the front seat since he insists on sitting in the middle seat of our middle row of seats (8 seat mini van) so he can have the safest seat, lol.

 


My kids love the back too, but I think it's just b/c when they sit in the back row I can't see what they're doing.  No mom I didn't just throw that book at DD1. whistling.gif


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#8 of 13 Old 02-28-2012, 12:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Honey693 View Post


My kids love the back too, but I think it's just b/c when they sit in the back row I can't see what they're doing.  No mom I didn't just throw that book at DD1. whistling.gif



You might be on to something there!  I know DD is always saying, "Why can't he sit on the otherside of the car" and DS is quite gleeful that he *has* to sit there for safety! 


 

 

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#9 of 13 Old 02-29-2012, 02:28 AM
 
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I wish mine would! 

 

The age is only 10 here in France so I have to fight to get them to sit in the back. Luckily my kids are on the big side. 

 

One advantage is that I can turn off the airbag. I'm curious under what weight I should do this. Bad news that just because my kids are big, that their skeletons are not necessarily strong enough for the airbags. For the record, it's a Yaris and I do very little highway driving (usually sending them to the back when we do). 

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#10 of 13 Old 03-05-2012, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, if ds still fits in the back, he'll stay there until 15. It'll be OK if he's in the van. It's not so hot in the other car, I'm afraid. He's a cautious kid, so I don't think I'll have a lot of convincing to do.


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#11 of 13 Old 03-05-2012, 02:29 PM
 
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The study that I can find that references back seat until 15 vs 13 was in the journal Pediatrics in 2005. It is referenced by this article, but I can't find the journal article. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/airbags_teens.html

I can't find any reference to CHOP having done a study as well. The study was done in 2005, and the opinon of many techs is that it was looking at older air bags, there have been continuous advances in air bag safety. No one, from NHTSA, to AAP, to vehicle manufacturers, to the Safe Kids curriculum has changed from their position of 13 being an OK age to be up front. It's been 7 years since that study, and there have been numerous safety updates since, including the most recent March 2011 update by NHTSA and AAP, and no one moved from 13 to 15.

Sure, we would all be safest in the back seat, but the recommendation is actually 13, not 15. If it's not a problem to keep your kids in the back, then by all means, it's safer! But I wouldn't feel badly about using the front after 13. We are likely to become a family of 6, and I know that my oldest will sometimes end up in the front when she is 13 and her sibs are 10, 7 and 5. Professionally, I recommend 13 and that is consistent with best practice by everyone we regulalry reference.

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#12 of 13 Old 03-05-2012, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since I'm a complete geek, here's the link to the original article: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/6/1579.full  It looked at serious injury in frontal crashes with or without an airbag, using data from 1995-2002, with first generation air bags.

 

And here's the reasoning behind the AAP's recommendations for car seating: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/e1050.full They say clearly 13 and older, though there's been no replication of the Newgard & Lewis (2005) study (the one above)  with data from 2nd generation airbags.


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#13 of 13 Old 03-07-2012, 03:37 PM
 
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Thanks for finding it! I couldn't track it down. I had previously been looking for a CHOP study, but this appears to be it. I work regularly with people at two crash labs and will be asking if they've heard of anything more with the new airbags.

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