Most parents know that traveling in a motor vehicle is a major safety concern for their children. Federal fatality and injury statistics make it clear that car wrecks are a leading cause of disability and death for people of all ages, including teenagers and newborns.
As your children get older, they will likely start to fight against your attempts to keep them safe in a vehicle. Younger siblings may fight about sitting in a rear-facing car seat when their big brother is only in a booster seat. Middle school students might demand to sit in the front seat.
Is it true that children are always safer if they sit in the back?
Age, size and vehicle models affect safety
Unfortunately for parents, there is no one answer that is definitively true about your child’s risk during a car crash when it comes to what is the safest seat. For many children, especially those that are still subject to specialty restraint requirements, the back seat is the best place for them to be.
The front seat can be particularly dangerous for young children because of the safety features, such as airbags. However, once children are tall and heavy enough for the vehicle’s restraints and safety systems to work properly, the front seat could actually be safer.
Most vehicles do not yet have side-impact airbags in the back, which means that bigger children and teenagers might suffer worse injuries if they are in the back seat rather than the front seat when a crash occurs. Looking into your vehicle’s safety features and verifying your child’s weight can help you decide where they should sit.
Safety is more important than what their friends do
Children in grade school might argue that they don’t need a booster seat because no one else in their class uses one. However, they’re still under four feet tall and therefore at high risk of the restraints not working properly if a crash occurs or causing injury.
As hard as it can be, it is your job as a parent to prioritize your child’s long-term safety over their short-term happiness. While they may find it embarrassing to sit in the back seat or use a booster, you need to do what will keep them safest. Taking the right safety measures will reduce the possibility of your children paying the price if you get into a major motor vehicle collision.