The Front Seat — The Final Frontier for 13 Year Olds

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Finally 13 years old and riding in the front seat

Your tiny baby has, somehow, grown into a big kid. The little squishy newborn who you were so careful to keep rear facing as she became a toddler and a preschooler, and for whom you researched combination seats, and then learned to convert her seat to a booster, and kept in a backless booster until she fit in the seat belt, finally passes the five step test. After wondering how that happened so fast, you might wonder if she can now safely ride with you in the front seat.

When Should My Child Ride in the Front Seat?

The simple answer is that children shouldn’t ride in the front seat of any car with a back seat until they are 13. Children aged 12 and under are 50% more likely to suffer injury and death in the front seat than the back seat, so they should stay in the back seat until age 13 when at all possible. We have a detailed description of the reasons behind this recommendation here.

In the rare and unavoidable situations where kids must ride in the front seat before age 13, we still need to follow best practice for child restraints and keep them in booster seats until they pass the five step test.

For any child who is under the age of 13, all alternatives should be explored before making the tough choice to let a kid ride up front: those alternatives might include switching cars with another caregiver or friend, taking public transportation, ferrying children in two loads while kids stay with responsible caregivers on either side, and taking two cars instead of one for a family with four kids and three back seats.