The ages between the end of the child restraint law (in many states 8) and new driver laws is a time when parents may not be too sure about how to keep their children safe while in the car.
After all many of us parents were riding in the front seat (or in my case, the hatchback “trunk” of a RX-7) during these ages.
Studies show that safest place in the car for tweens is the back seat until, well, pretty much, until they are driving themselves but at least until they are 13 when their bone structure is more developed.
Vehicle manufacturers and safety advocates agree, the safest place for children under the age of 13 is in the back seat.
Remember most children do not fit properly in the vehicle’s seat belt until they are 4’9″ this may not be until the child is 12 years old. Until that time they need some sort of seat belt positioner like a RideSafer or a booster seat.
Different vehicles and its seat belts fit differently, so if you think your child is close or old enough to fit, you can try the 5-step seat belt fit test on your child in your car and determine if your child is ready. Remember these five rules to make sure a seat belt fits your child properly:
- They must sit all the way back against the seat
- They have to be able to bend their knees comfortably at the edge of the seat
- The seat belt must cross the shoulder between the neck and arm
- The lap belt must be as low as possible and touch the thighs.
- They must be able to sit like this for the entire trip
Here are some stats provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation and CPS Colorado. In 2013 only 78% of 5 to 15 year olds were properly restrained compared to 92.7% of 0 to 4 year olds.
Many parents move their kids out of booster seats before they’re ready. Know the proper fit for your child.
Many parents feel like when the child is out of the booster, they are ready for the front seat. It’s still safer for your child to sit in the back.
If you’d like a car seat technician to go through the 5-step test with your child, you can find a technician near you.
What do you think about keeping your child in the back seat until 13? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2018 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in August 2014. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.