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At What Age Can Children Legally Sit in the Front Seat?

At What Age Can Children Legally Sit in the Front Seat?

Before you let your child sit in the front seat, make sure you know how old your child should be before they become a front-seat passenger to stay safe in the car.


When traveling with children, safety is paramount. At every age, it's important to keep your child properly secured and buckled up. Young children ride in the back, but as they grow up, parents will undoubtedly start to ask: When can my child ride in the front with me?

Most laws require children to ride in the back seat of a car, and most states permit children over a particular age, height, or weight to use an adult safety belt, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

But specific laws about front-seat riding for kids vary from state to state and sometimes seem vague.

“Many state laws are written ambiguously and simply use the Centers for Disease Control guideline that children cannot sit in the front seat until age thirteen,” says Christine Nastasi, R.N., B.S.N., T.C.R.N., C.P.E.N., pediatric trauma coordinator at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, located in Stony Brook on Long Island.

So, when are children legally allowed to sit in the front seat of a car? Here's what each state in the New York metro area requires for child-passenger safety and allowing children to ride in a vehicle's front seat:

What age can kids sit in the front seat in New York?

Children should not sit in the front seat of a car until they are 13 years old in New York, according to New York State Department of Health. State law requires children ages 8-15 to use safety belts when riding in cars. The use of appropriate child restraint systems, such as belt-positioning booster seats, is permitted as adult seat belts may not properly fit some children in this age group if they are shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches tall, according to NYS DoH.



In addition, the state's expanded seatbelt law, which went into effect Nov. 1, requires all passengers ages 16 and older to wear a seat belt in the backseat of personal vehicles, as well as taxis and ride-share cars.

What age can kids sit in the front seat in New Jersey?

Children younger than 8 and shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches should be appropriately secured in the rear seat of a motor vehicle. If a car doesn't have rear seats, such as in the case of a pick-up truck, a child in this category can ride in the front seat if they are appropriately secured and the passenger side airbag has been disabled, according to New Jersey’s Department of Law & Public Safety.

What age can kids sit in the front seat in Connecticut?

While the state doesn't clearly define when children are permitted to ride in the front seat, it’s recommended that children should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old, according to Safe Kids Connecticut. There is, however, a law that states all children, tweens, and teens must use seat belts in motor vehicles. Here's how the rest of Connecticut’s passenger safety laws work: Infants must remain rear-facing until they are a minimum of both 2 years and 30 pounds; toddlers must be in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness until they are 5 years old and 40 pounds; and children should ride in a booster, using the car’s lap-and-shoulder belt, until they reach 8 years old and 60 pounds.

More information about child-passenger safety laws can be found on your state's official website.


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