Dec 31, 2014
It might surprise you to learn that the safest spot in the car for a child is the middle of the backseat as long as it has a proper seatbelt.
Why is the backseat so much safer than the front for children? It’s pretty simple—being in the backseat lowers risk of injury or death. There’s more space between your child and the dashboard, and being further back behind the front seat provides extra protection against projectiles.
There’s also the added factor of airbags. Although modern airbags can be lifesaving for an adult, the incredible force of an airbag deploying can severely injure or kill a child. Since a child’s muscle and bone structures aren’t as strong as an adult’s, an airbag poses a significant threat to a child. Even for a minor collision where injuries should otherwise be minimal, a deployed airbag could still kill a child.
For children older than 12 who are tall enough to safely wear a seatbelt without a booster, the backseat is still the safest option—but if it’s absolutely necessary that they ride in the front, it may be safer to turn off the passenger side airbag if possible.
According to the CDC, the age and height guidelines for car seats are as follows: