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  1. #1
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    Best practice advice for young teens (other people's kids) in minivan--front seat or third row?

    I'm going to be doing a pretty long road trip with some "marathon" driving days (10+ hours) this summer, and there's a good chance I'll be bringing a set of 13 year old twins (family friends) as well as my own two kids.

    I drive a 2012 Honda Odyssey. To give everyone personal space, my intention was to have the four kids sit outboard in rows two and three of the van.

    My own kids will be 10 and 13 this summer. I've never let either of them ride up front, nor do I generally intend for them to ride up front until they are driving themselves.

    On the other hand, I just read a thread here about the front seat POSSIBLY being safer for teens/small adults due to the addition of many safety features in modern cars.

    Additionally, I know that these 13 year olds (rising high school freshmen) are allowed to ride up front with their own parents.

    While I would not offer even the option of riding up front to younger kids, I'm now considering whether these older kids (young teens) might be safer sitting up front with me instead of insisting they take turns in the third row of the van.

    Specifically, I'm thinking of some crash footage I saw a few years ago that showed luggage handles from the rear cargo area in a minivan intruding into the third row seat after a severe crash. As a rule, I use center row (row 2) in my van whenever I'm carrying just two kids, and I've assumed it is the safest overall position, though I let them use the more comfortable outboard seats instead of squishing a larger kid in the narrow row 2 center/middle seat. I pack cargo pretty carefully, always making an effort to avoid leaving potential projectiles in case of a collision, but this will be a full van headed out on a long trip. There will be luggage, bedding, and some camping equipment behind row three.

    I will ask the twins' mother what her preference is in any case, but I expect she will tell me her kids are fine to ride up front but also to put forth whatever rules I see fit when I'm hosting them.

    What do other people do when driving other people's teen children?

    Thanks for your thoughts!
    --willo

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  3. #2
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Best practice advice for young teens (other people's kids) in minivan--front seat or third row?

    I have no concerns having a child 13 or over in the front seat. As to whether it's safer or not, I doubt there is any data to help you, and I doubt there is any significant difference compared to the third row. I'd be fine with them in any spot where they are comfortable and can be correctly restrained.

    The third row of most minivans pretty well contains luggage behind it. Perhaps not for a rollover crash or extremely energetic frontal crash, but you can always use a cargo net or bungees if you are concerned.

  4. #3
    Senior Community Member sirrahn's Avatar
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    Re: Best practice advice for young teens (other people's kids) in minivan--front seat or third row?

    Typically when driving other teens, they want to be next to a friend so they end up in back somewhere, but I'd never be concerned about any 13 yr old up front.

    I also wouldn't want a kid learning to drive who'd never ridden up front. It's a very different vantage point and I think that observation (and potential discussion with the driver) is very important preparation.

    Sent from my phone using Tapatalk
    Mom to DS-19 driving a 2011 CR-Z, DS-17, DD-14, and DD-12 riding in a 2017 Yaris iA, 2010 Prius & 2004 Sienna

  5. #4
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    Re: Best practice advice for young teens (other people's kids) in minivan--front seat or third row?

    I have a 2012 Odyssey. The way the 3rd row seatback is angled, luggage would have a real hard time getting out of the cargo area. Especially if the headrests are up. I figure they'll want to be in the back with their friends.

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