At What Age Can Kids Sit in the Front Seat of a Car in Pennsylvania?
Ryan Zavodnick | September 6, 2023 | Pennsylvania Law
Moving from an infant car seat into a booster seat and then to the front seat of a car is a right of passage for children, similar to riding a bike without training wheels. Still, though they may be eager to dispense with their bulky seats and no longer have to be placed in the back of the car, the law is what ultimately dictates when a child can ride in the front seat of a passenger vehicle.
Making the move too early not only means you run the risk of a traffic ticket, but you also jeopardize your child’s safety in the event of a car accident. Therefore, you should never allow your child to ride in the front seat of your car until they are able to do so under the rule of law.
Child Safety Seat Laws in Pennsylvania
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,093 children under the age of 15 were killed in traffic accidents in 2020. As such, Pennsylvania’s child safety seat laws are in place to help prevent your child from suffering severe injuries or death in the event of a motor vehicle crash.
Safety Seat, Booster Seat, and Seat Belt Laws For Children
Whether your child needs a special seat to ride in a car in Pennsylvania is subject to the following circumstances regarding the child’s age:
- Under the age of two, the child must be in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the size limitations of that seat as set by the manufacturer
- Under the age of four, your child must be in a car seat appropriate for their size
- Between the ages of four and eight, the child must be in a booster seat
From the time your child no longer needs a rear-facing car seat, Pennsylvania law allows your child to ride anywhere in the vehicle so long as they are restrained in the appropriate seat by a seat belt. Parents should also note that these are the minimum timeframes required by Pennsylvania law.
When Children Can Safely Ride Up Front
You may be able to put your child in the front seat of your car as soon as they outgrow their rear-facing child car seat, but that does not mean that doing so is safe. Parents.com cites pediatric experts who recommend that any child under the age of 13 remain in the rear seat of your car, no matter the kind of restraint they may require.
The reason for that specific recommendation is that, until age 13, a child’s musculoskeletal system continues to grow and develop, which makes them more susceptible to injuries in the event of a crash. Riding in the rear seat can shield your child from the brunt of most vehicular impacts.
Child Safety Is Your Responsibility
Protecting your child as you ride with them in your car or truck is more involved than simply complying with the law. Pennsylvania sets minimum safety standards with which drivers with children in the vehicle must comply, but there is more you can do to keep your child safe.
Start your child off in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow it, then move them into a forward-facing car seat until they outgrow that device as well. From there, a booster seat should then be used until your child is tall enough that a standard seat belt fits them properly. Finally, consider keeping your child in the rear seat until they turn 13.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Philadelphia Today To Get Help With Your Case
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call Zavodnick & Lasky Personal Injury Lawyers at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.
You can also visit our law firm at 123 S Broad St #1220, Philadelphia, PA 19109.