The Dangers of Allowing Children to Sit in the Front Seat

Every parent wants to keep their children safe. However, allowing kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle can put them at greater risk of injury in the event of a car accident.

At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, our North Mississippi car accident attorneys understand the importance of car safety for children. This page will guide you through the risks associated with front-seat travel for young passengers and why it’s crucial to follow recommended safety practices to protect your little ones.

Risks Children Face When Riding in a Car’s Front Seat

There are five key reasons why children should not ride in a car’s front seat:

  1. Airbag Deployment—Airbags save lives by cushioning adults during a crash. However, the force of an airbag can be too powerful for children, causing injuries rather than preventing them. It’s safer for children to ride in the back, where airbags aren’t a direct threat.
  2. Seat Belt Fit – Seat belts are crucial for safety but are designed with adults in mind. For children, a seat belt that doesn’t fit correctly can injure them instead of protecting them in an accident. For instance, a poorly fitted seat belt might rest too high on the stomach or neck, increasing the risk of injury to these sensitive areas.
  3. Proximity to the Dashboard and Windshield – Children sitting in the front are much closer to the dashboard and windshield. In a crash, this makes it more likely for them to hit these hard surfaces, leading to serious injuries. Keeping children in the back seat puts more distance between them and potential impact points.
  4. Lack of Safety Features—Most vehicles’ back seats have special features for child safety, like anchors for child seats and booster seats. These features help ensure that safety devices work correctly, while the front seat often lacks these features.
  5. Greater Impact Force – The front of a vehicle is one of the most common points of impact in accidents. Children in the front seat are, therefore, more exposed to the intense force of frontal collisions, which can lead to more severe injuries compared to injuries sustained by those seated in the back.

Mississippi Laws on Children’s Car Seats

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, Children under four years old must always use a safety seat or similar restraint. Children aged four to six years old need to use a booster seat if they are shorter than 57 inches (which is 4 feet, 9 inches) or if they weigh less than 65 pounds. Once a child is seven years old or older, or they reach at least 57 inches tall or weigh 65 pounds or more, they can start using the adult safety belt without a booster.

What Safety System Should Your Children Use in the Car?

Here are the recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the appropriate car safety systems for children based on their age, height, and weight:

  • Infants up to age 1: Always use rear-facing car seats. These seats provide the best protection during a crash.
  • Children ages 1-3: Continue using rear-facing car seats until they exceed the height or weight limit specified by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Children ages 3-4: Transition to forward-facing car seats with a harness and tether, which provide added safety.
  • Children ages 4-7: Keep using the forward-facing seat with a tether and harness until they grow out of the seat according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Children ages 7-8 and older: Move to booster seats once they outgrow forward-facing seats. Ensure the lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should cross the chest and shoulder, not the neck or face. Always position children in booster seats in the back seat.
  • Children ages 12-13: Once they fit correctly, children can begin using adult seat belts without the need for a booster seat. It’s safest for them to continue riding in the back seat.

Contact Our Southaven & Hernando Car Accident Attorneys

If your child sustained injuries in a Mississippi car accident, the team at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman can help you pursue fair compensation for the harm they suffered. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.