A weight minimum for the front seat?

bearwithmoi

New member
I'm asking for a friend of mine. Her son just turned 13, but is only 85 lbs. She doesn't want him to be a passenger in the front seat yet and thinks he's too small. Are there any guidelines that I can give her for reference for her son.

Thanks!
 
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Unregistered1

Guest
I don't know, I hope it's not under 85 lbs because I have a driver's license and I only weigh 82 :D:p
But if she doesn't want him in front, then keep him in back, weight limit or no.
 

azgirl71

CPST Instructor
The recommendation is anyone under the age of 13 yo ride in the rear seats. He meets the age recommendation, but I still would have him ride in the rear seats regardless of his weight. My neighbor is the opposite she think because her 11 yo weighs 150 lbs he is fine in the front seat. I have told her he is not. Others on here do not allow thier children to ride up fron until they are driving age. DS 2 started sitting up front about a year ago. He is 15 yo and 145 lbs.
 

mamaofthree

New member
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but why wouldn't a 150 lb 11 yr old be safe in the front seat? Too short? I know 13 is the minimum, which I assume means an avg sized 13 yo, so I wouldn't let a small child sit in the front, but what if they are under 13, tall AND heavy? I haven't even thought about this for my kids because they are tiny and won't sit in the front for a billion years, but it kinda scares me for myself. I'm 5 ft and 99 lbs. I hate to think I'm less safe than a bigger person. :(

Kimberly
 

j4m4d8

New member
In the CPS world simple rules are made that result in the best protection for the majority. However the real life variables are much more complicated and often we just don't know for sure what is best. We can look at the big picture and make an educated guess, but that's all.

The rationale for the under 13 rule is protection from air bags. Real life data indicate that air bags are detrimental to unrestrained children under 13. For unrestrained children 13 and older they provide some benefit. (For restrained children there is no difference for ages 6-8 and benefit for those 9 and up.) Note that this is compared with the front seat with no air bag, NOT with the rear seat. Basically the rule is designed ONLY to provide protection from air bags.

If you are comparing front seat with air bag to rear seat safety IN GENERAL, everyone under 50 is safer in the rear seat. People over 50 should sit in the front with an air bag.

See how the under 13 rule works? It provides added safety to restrained children under 6 and unrestrained children under 13, while having no detrimental effect for restrained 9-12 year olds who are just as safe in the back as they are in the front with an air bag anyway. But the simple rule is much easier to remember and follow.

Now for the petite adults. Here's a link to an NHTSA study comparing rear seat protection to front seat protection.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-01/esv/esv19/05-0212-O.pdf

Small adults are likely safer in the front than in the back. On pages six and seven, figures eleven and thirteen there are charts comparing front passenger and rear passenger crash test results in five newer vehicles with a restrained 5th percentile female dummy. Note that the front seat has much better numbers. The average adult also had higher numbers in the back, but these were within acceptable limits. So from now on, if one parent needs to sit in the back, make your husband be the one. :p

Quote from page 8: "This suggests that the advanced restraint systems of the front seats in these newer vehicle models make the front seat position more effective than the rear seating position for adult occupants in reducing serious to fatal injuries." (Kuppa, 2005)

Page 8 also explains that 64 percent of rear seat occupants are under 12, but they account for only 32 percent of the serious injuries and 26 percent of the fatalities. So the fact that children usually sit in the back is one of the reasons that rear seats appear safer in general, but this may or may not be the case for adults.

I also like the interesting wave you can see in the real world fatality data on page 2 comparing restrained rear seat passengers with restrained front passengers with an air bag. You can see the rear seat provides the most additional protection for small children and young adults, slight or no benefit for nine to twelve year olds, and much less protection for those over fifty. It seems the rear seat belts are not as kind to more fragile bodies as the front ones are.

The ironic thing is that many parents think "My child is big for their age so they can ride in front," while what little data we have indicates that if they're big for their age they're definitely better off in the back. It would be petite teenagers that might be better off in front--the 85 pound 13 year old could possibly benefit from sitting in the front, while the 150 pound 11 year old (or 13 or 15 year old) is better off in the back. On the other hand, if the air bag turns off when the 85 pounder is sitting there, the back seat is the way to go.

This article is encouraging development of dynamic crash tests for rear seat belts that will hopefully result in more cars having pretensioners and load limiters in the back making it safer for everyone. I would think it would be a long time in coming though.

Sorry I'm being as clear as mud. But that's why we learn the simplified rules in the first place.

Julie D.

Another link:

A Transport Canada study on booster effectiveness also notes better protection for the small adult dummy in the front as compared to the back. This one focuses on seat belt geometry. It's also a good read when thinking about extended harnessing of children.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-01/esv/esv19/05-0258-O.pdf
 

joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
The latest study to come out said regardless of weight, kids are definitely safer in the back until age 15...I believe it has to do with purberty and skeletal development. But as Julie said, there are adult studies that show differences in adult safety between the rear and front seats. But definitely when it comes to children, 15 is the most recent number for when it's 'safe' to sit in the front (the study isn't online anymore, I think we need to find it, but it may be subscription only). Weight and height have nothing to do with it (well, obviously the seatbelt should fit well or they should be in a booster in the back).

:)
 

azgirl71

CPST Instructor
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but why wouldn't a 150 lb 11 yr old be safe in the front seat? Too short? I know 13 is the minimum, which I assume means an avg sized 13 yo, so I wouldn't let a small child sit in the front, but what if they are under 13, tall AND heavy? I haven't even thought about this for my kids because they are tiny and won't sit in the front for a billion years, but it kinda scares me for myself. I'm 5 ft and 99 lbs. I hate to think I'm less safe than a bigger person. :(

Kimberly

He cannot pass the 5 step test. He is to big for a booster. The airbag could still severely injure him in a crash as well as the seatbelt causing internal injuries. Because NHTSA has 13 yo as the recommended age as well as most vehicle manufacturers I would not put a 11 yo in the front seat. They have a Suburban they only have 2 kids. There is pelnty of room for him to sit in the back seat. He is just a whiney child who gets his way.

My SIL is 5 ft and 97 lbs. She said she would love to ride in a booster, but would then have to get peddle extension and that is not happening.
 

j4m4d8

New member
The NHTSA recommendation is based SOLELY on danger from air bags. Children 13 and over seem to benefit from air bags so that is the recommendation.

SafteyBeltSafe U.S.A. recommends children under 15 sit in the back. This is not an air bag related recommendation, the idea being that people under 50 are safer in the back and you don't need to sit in the front until you learn to drive.

I think the study you were referring to about air bags and children under 15 is discussed in the November/December 2005 issue of Safe Ride News. Because children 0 to 14 were included in one group and the confidence levels were wide (including the very small possibility that air bags were protective for the entire age group, yikes!) it hasn't been highly influential. Sometimes a small sample raises more questions than it answers. Is there a newer study I am missing? You know I can't resist reading them!

I suspect since older people so clearly benefit from the advanced protection found in front seat that it is not so much an issue of height or weight but of bone strength. Pure speculation, and I don't see bone strength being a practical decision maker anyway. Also I'm not sure how the small female dummy compares in that regard to the average adult male dummy. Hmm, more to research!

The great news is that we have made so much progress in front passenger protection that there is now debate about whether the front or back is safer for people who fit into seat belts alone. This can only be temporary, because once back seat protection comes up to the level of front seat protection, the back seat will clearly become the safer place for everyone again.

Julie D.

Here's a link to a slide presentation based on the same study that breaks the air bag results down by model year. (page 9) Note that '99-'05 cars provide better front seat protection than '91-'98 cars.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-01/SAE/SAE2006/Kuppa_Frontal Crash Protection Rear Seat.pdf
 
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joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
Page 11... seems to break out at safer in the rear seat till 15...no?

I do need to find the study, maybe Stephanie Tombrello can direct me to it, but it was pretty clear about rear seat being safest to that age, which is why SBS/SRN have that recommendation :)
 

j4m4d8

New member
That study confuses me. It shows the front seat being safer for 0 to 5 year olds and the back seat being safer for those over 50 which is the opposite of what other studies and recommendations show. I'm not saying it's not valid, but I'd need to see a lot more about it before I would refer anyone to it.

Here's the PCPS study:
http://www.chop.edu/traumalink/download/2005/pcps_cpsrprt_05.pdf
While acknowledging a higher injury risk for all passengers under 15, it points out that there is no increased risk in the front seat for properly restrained teens 13-15. It continues to advocate the children under 13 sit in the back rule. Interestingly it also discusses a previous time in history when many thought children would benefit more from the lap/shoulder belts in the front than the then common lap belts in the back. Then air bags came along. Clearly the delay in implementing safety improvements in the back seat leads people to develop habits that are not best for their overall safety.

I can't wait for better seat belts to become commonplace in the back seat. I selfishly anticipate to be one of the people who will really benefit from them. Oh well, maybe by the time I'm 50 anyway.

Julie D.
 

joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
(admits she needs to look at more studies) I wonder if the widespread lack of backseat belt use has a lot to do with the injury statistics? Not to mention incredibly small samples of adults in back seats at all.... :confused:
 

j4m4d8

New member
Probably, although I generally focus on studies of properly restrained people. Selfish of me, but it is not like we aren't going to buckle up.

Thanks for giving me something to do while I was sick. It sure makes the time go faster.

Julie D.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
A child I know (12 years old, about 90 lbs) was recently in quite a bad crash (car was totaled), sitting in the front seat with the airbag on. He's fine (walked away from the crash), but all of his injuries were air-bag related. He told me he wishes he had been in the back seat instead, even though he was supposedly old enough to sit in front.
 

skaterbabs

Well-known member
On the way to Joy's dance class this evening, someone made a left-hand turn into my lane. If I hadn't been slowing down to make a turn myself I'd have never stopped in time to avoid hitting her. My eldest has been in the front seat of my car for a few days now because there just isn't enough room in the back seat anymore, and the first words out of his mouth were " I wish I'd been in the back seat!"

Unfortunately, in this car that's not something we can do any more.
 

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