How Old Do Children Need to Be to Ride in the Front Seat?

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To ride in the front seat, children must be at least 13 years of age and they must be properly buckled. Never sit a young child in front of an air bag or in the front seat while in a rear facing car seat.

More than 1,100 children aged 14 years and younger died in 2012 from motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and an additional 176,000 children were injured. Car restraints and car seats reduce the potential risk of death in a crash for both children and adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends various stages for seating children in a vehicle. Newborn children up to 2 years of age should be placed in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Children from ages 2 to 5 years old should be put in a forward-facing car seat. After the age of 5 or until the seat belt fits the child properly, the child should be in a booster seat. Children should not be taken out of the booster seat until they are 57 inches tall so that the seat belt will fit properly. Seat belts should lay across the child’s upper thighs and not around the child’s stomach, and the shoulder belt needs to touch the child at the shoulder and not at the neck.