The front seat of a vehicle is a dangerous place for some people – especially children and pregnant women. Before allowing someone to sit in your front passenger seat it is important to understand the general restrictions. These will not only ensure your safety, but that of the person riding in your vehicle.
According to the SafetyBeltSafe USA, children under the age of 13 should not be riding in the front passenger seat of a vehicle, though they prefer a child stay in the back seat until they are legally able to drive. According to Baby Center, a head-on crash is the most dangerous type of collision for a child in the front seat and often results in a child being thrown through the windshield or harmed by items that come into the windshield.
The front seat of a vehicle has certain height and weight restrictions in regards to safety. The combination of a seat belt and air bag are meant to protect an individual that is an adult or older teenager. Depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle the weight and height restrictions can vary; therefore it is important to refer to your owner’s manual before allowing a child sit in the front seat.
Air bags are deployed quickly and with force when a vehicle is involved in a collision. Therefore, it is important to never allow an infant, toddler or young child to sit in the front passenger seat because air bags can cause serious injury or death according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While air bags can protect an adult, they can be fatal for an infant or child. Always place infant seats or booster seats in the back seat of the car. If for any reason a child who is younger than 12 does have to sit in the front seat, refer to your owner’s manual to see if there is an airbag shut-off system in your vehicle. Turn off your front passenger air bag system if possible. An automatic sensor system may be in place in your vehicle which will automatically sense the low weight in the front passenger seat and turn off the air bag system.
Though this is not required by law, pregnant women should also refrain from sitting in the front passenger seat. Since airbags deploy at extreme speeds, pregnant women run the risk of placenta abruption from the high impact to the stomach and in some instances death to the fetus.