can a child sit in the front passenger seat if in a carseat or booster?

Discussion in 'Cars, cycling and transport' started by eamonn123456, May 25, 2008.

  1. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    Got nephews and nieces visiting next week.

    Is it legal for them to sit in the front passenger seat if they are on a booster cushion (which is legal for their age)?

    Or do they have to be in the back seat?

    Couldnt see answer on RSA website.

  2. Frank

    Frank Frequent Poster

    child has to be over 1.45 meters or a certain weight you can find it on the web somewhere.

    Front airbags can be child lethal so I would suggest sticking with the back seats.
  3. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    Frank, are you sure about that.

    I can see that a child needs to be 150cm or more to go without a booster seat i.e. just wear a seatbelt.

    It just says what seat are suitable for
    Group 0 - babies up to 10kg - backward seat

    Group 1 - babies up to 18kg - forward seat

    Group 2 - kids up to 25kg - booster seat

    Group 3 - kids up to 36kg - booster cushion

    Above 150 cm - seat belt

    Doesnt really say if all or any of these aren't allowed in front - so can I assume they are?

    I would switch off airbag.
  4. gipimann

    gipimann Frequent Poster

    Here's your answer from the Citizens' Information Website...

    Children over 4 years of age may occupy a forward facing front seat of a vehicle only if they are using a safety belt or an appropriate child restraint. Otherwise, they must travel in a rear seat.

    Passengers aged 3 years or over must wear safety belts where they are fitted, when travelling by bus.

    A person aged 12 years or more who is under 150 cm in height is not required to use a seatbelt even if this is provided but they must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with safety belts. They are of course free to wear the belt but people under this height are outside the limits of the safety belt design parameters, so there is a possibility that a safety belt could be injurious to them in some circumstances. For this reason, the law allows them to choose for themselves to belt up or not to belt up. This is irrespective of whether they are sitting in the front or back of the vehicle.

  5. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    Thanks! So they are allowed to sit in the front seat on their booster cushions.

    That website, or else the rules it explains, are hideously complicated arent they?

    Would be so much clearer if they organised a table showing the age / weight / height ranges, and the various permutations of cars / other vehicles, fitted with / without seat belts, and the outcome for each?

    Or better still a flowchart.

    But that would be too simple ;-)

  6. mercman

    mercman Frequent Poster

    Better still Eamonn, never mind the 'CAN' bit, how about thinking about the safety of the child sitting in the front seat.
  7. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    That's a very good point Mercman, the front passenger seat is presumably less safe than the back seat (I would guess anyway).

    But if it were not legal, I would not even have to think about that, so just wanted to find out the legal position first.

    Now that I know it is legal, the safety question arises.

    It would only be for a couple of short trips, so the chances of an accident are slim, quite frankly. I know most accidents happen on short trips, but that is a function of the sheer number of those we make.

    The other consideration is that if they don't go in my car, they go by taxi, and that would mean they might end up travelling to / from some outings without a car seat or even booster (which is legal but unsafe).

    Anyhow, at the end of the day its not for me to worry about as their parents must decide what they are allowed to do or not.

    Fair point though.
  8. shesells

    shesells Frequent Poster

    I was under the impression you had to be 12 to sit in the front seat of a car? Or is that just an urban myth.

    Have seen documentaries on accidents with young kids in the front seat, killed by airbags. Scary stuff.

    Even if it's not actually the law, I think 12 is a good rule of thumb to allow for height over the airbag.
  9. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    As stated, I will switch off the airbag.

    Apart from that, have you any basis for the belief that they legally have to be > 12 to be in the front?
  10. davidoco

    davidoco Frequent Poster

    Do you recall if it was babies in rear ward facing car seats in the front pasenger seat that were injured by the air bag?

    It seems unlikely, that say a four year old in a forward facing child seat, would be harmed by the air bag unless the bag as designed comes out low and pushes the child down unlike an adult who would get it straight in the chest.
  11. eamonn123456

    eamonn123456 Frequent Poster

    I would not fancy an air bag going off in the face / head or any other part of a 4 year old.

    Plus wouldn't there could be a suffocation risk?

    I think that's why would switch it off.
  12. sse

    sse Frequent Poster

    hi all

    What we do in this situation is put the tallest child in the front seat on an approved booster, make sure they're well strapped in and the seat is as far back as possible. You can get the "deployment" area of the airbag from the manufacturer. Personally I wouldn't let kids go anywhere in taxis if you have the option of taking them yourself. I also wouldn't turn off the airbag, it's probably more likely to save life than kill in this situation.

    A rearward-facing car seat should never be used in the front with an active airbag, this has resulted in many well-documented deaths and injuries.

    Generally advise is that children are safer in the back, although I'd question this if the choice is between a 3-point belt in the front and a lap belt only in the back middle.

    You're not going to get suffocated by an airbag, they start to deflate even as they're finishing deploying. You might get minor friction burns though. It's quite a lively experience when they go off, believe me........

  13. galwaytt

    galwaytt Frequent Poster

    The reason it's not ILLEGAL to have a child in the front is...........not all cars have rear seats. Nor Vans. Nor trucks.

    My MX-5, for instance, is a 2-seater, so the law couldn't work - I put them in a booster.