Can a 3 year old ride in the front of a truck with the carseat facing backward?

N

Nick

Guest
We have been arguing this for a bit and I have done much online looking but cant find a definitive, should there even be one, answer.

We have a 3 year old who is now facing forward in the rear seat of two cars. The question is can the child ride in his car seat in a small truck facing backwards where the truck has basically just a front seat. The back seat is really more of a holding bay, it has two seats that fold down but even a small adult would have a hard time using the back.

So from a should, could, must and or required perspective I thought I would post the question otherwise we will be going back and forth until the child is old enough to drive.....

Thanks
 
ADS
D

Destiny

Guest
I believe so if airbag is disabled. Weather they should or not is another discussion
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
We have been arguing this for a bit and I have done much online looking but cant find a definitive, should there even be one, answer.

We have a 3 year old who is now facing forward in the rear seat of two cars. The question is can the child ride in his car seat in a small truck facing backwards where the truck has basically just a front seat. The back seat is really more of a holding bay, it has two seats that fold down but even a small adult would have a hard time using the back.

So from a should, could, must and or required perspective I thought I would post the question otherwise we will be going back and forth until the child is old enough to drive.....

Thanks

In North America at least, children must NEVER, ever ride rear-facing in the front seat of ANY vehicle unless in special situations where the airbag has been positively disabled using a manual on/off switch.

There are situations where a child over 2 years old could ride forward-facing in the front seat of a vehicle, but only if there is no safer alternative. It is always recommended that children 12 and under ride in the back seat whenever allowed by the owner's manuals.
 

dafish

New member
Legal and Ethical are entirely different. I suggest you look here for legal:

I bet in at least some states it's legal, probably most states.

I believe, at least in reasonably modern vehicles, pretty much all have some form of "auto-disable" feature on the front pax seat. Anything under 75lbs's rings a bell, but now it's owners manual time. I've never seen a state that required manual disables, and wouldn't use it if it did. - There is just too much room for mistake there. Forget to turn it off, or on, or? Which is exactly why the auto systems exist.

Ethical? As in "Should?" There are lots of opinions out there. Here's mine:

1) Risk management is everything. If you ride a motorcycle you know how to drive with exceptional awareness and risk management re; intersections, traffic, and etc.. In my opinion this is the number one consideration. Eg: Put down the cell phone! Use great tires on the car. Disengage idiots and road rage. Those are EXAMPLES, and I'm sure you knew all of it, but the point is we as drivers have so much input into risk management that it utterly trumps car seat choice. And the stuff I see out there suggests this "common sense" ain't so common.

2) How balanced is your risk model? I'm amazed at the folks that strap their kids into a car seat and then insist they shouldn't wear a mask. I'm not gonna get into it, but I find a fair bit of over-zealous focus in one area and incredible irresponsibility in others. Substitute masks for access to guns, locked cabinets, baby gates, smoking, etc if masks and vaccines are trigger words for you. Again, not accusing you, just suggesting balance lacks in some parts of our world and it never hurts to self-check ourselves. In fact I encourage my wife to remind me about caution when I'm moving the kids around lest I get complacent.

3) Would I let a child be in front in a car seat and rear-facing? Yes, if I was confident the airbag (which is a child killer, so be darn certain) was in no way enabled. But it would be last choice. Personally, at three years of age I would go front facing and use a safety vest (like the ridesafer vest) and again be darn certain the airbag was disabled. But this way I've got a better safety factor if it does trigger. It's a bit anal, but I'd take that setup over rear-facing just because if the over-ride failed and the air-bag deployed I'd be afraid it might hurt/kill the child. Just too much energy too close. I see my way as the better compromise. As does my daughter-in-law the pediatrician.

In fact, I'm looking hard at that vest now simply because I've a grandchild and want, in case of unexpected need, the ability to move all three kids in each of my cars. In a few cases the oldest (5) would need to be in front. I'll want him front facing, low and as far back as possible, carefully belted, and protected from belt damage (which is why kids don't use normal belts), and the driver would be expected to drive like a little old lady (do NOT let me wife see this post!)

Luck to you, hope I've helped.

-d
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Legal and Ethical are entirely different. I suggest you look here for legal:

I bet in at least some states it's legal, probably most states.

I believe, at least in reasonably modern vehicles, pretty much all have some form of "auto-disable" feature on the front pax seat. Anything under 75lbs's rings a bell, but now it's owners manual time. I've never seen a state that required manual disables, and wouldn't use it if it did. - There is just too much room for mistake there. Forget to turn it off, or on, or? Which is exactly why the auto systems exist.

Ethical? As in "Should?" There are lots of opinions out there. Here's mine:

1) Risk management is everything. If you ride a motorcycle you know how to drive with exceptional awareness and risk management re; intersections, traffic, and etc.. In my opinion this is the number one consideration. Eg: Put down the cell phone! Use great tires on the car. Disengage idiots and road rage. Those are EXAMPLES, and I'm sure you knew all of it, but the point is we as drivers have so much input into risk management that it utterly trumps car seat choice. And the stuff I see out there suggests this "common sense" ain't so common.

2) How balanced is your risk model? I'm amazed at the folks that strap their kids into a car seat and then insist they shouldn't wear a mask. I'm not gonna get into it, but I find a fair bit of over-zealous focus in one area and incredible irresponsibility in others. Substitute masks for access to guns, locked cabinets, baby gates, smoking, etc if masks and vaccines are trigger words for you. Again, not accusing you, just suggesting balance lacks in some parts of our world and it never hurts to self-check ourselves. In fact I encourage my wife to remind me about caution when I'm moving the kids around lest I get complacent.

3) Would I let a child be in front in a car seat and rear-facing? Yes, if I was confident the airbag (which is a child killer, so be darn certain) was in no way enabled. But it would be last choice. Personally, at three years of age I would go front facing and use a safety vest (like the ridesafer vest) and again be darn certain the airbag was disabled. But this way I've got a better safety factor if it does trigger. It's a bit anal, but I'd take that setup over rear-facing just because if the over-ride failed and the air-bag deployed I'd be afraid it might hurt/kill the child. Just too much energy too close. I see my way as the better compromise. As does my daughter-in-law the pediatrician.

In fact, I'm looking hard at that vest now simply because I've a grandchild and want, in case of unexpected need, the ability to move all three kids in each of my cars. In a few cases the oldest (5) would need to be in front. I'll want him front facing, low and as far back as possible, carefully belted, and protected from belt damage (which is why kids don't use normal belts), and the driver would be expected to drive like a little old lady (do NOT let me wife see this post!)

Luck to you, hope I've helped.

-d
In many (most?) states, it's only legal if the airbag is disabled either due to explicit prohibitions, "proper use" clauses, or both. In most trucks made in the last few decades it's not actually possible to disable the airbag without a waiver being granted by NHTSA for an aftermarket switch, which you then have to buy and find someone willing to install (not easy.) There was a sunset clause on the regulation allowing the switches to be factory installed, it wasn't repealed, and it triggered.
 
M

Matt

Guest
Why is the front seat problematic, so long as the airbag is disabled? For instance, if I pull the airbag fuse, why can’t I put a rear-facing car seat in the front? How much more dangerous is that position than the back, when airbags are taken out of the equation?
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Why is the front seat problematic, so long as the airbag is disabled? For instance, if I pull the airbag fuse, why can’t I put a rear-facing car seat in the front? How much more dangerous is that position than the back, when airbags are taken out of the equation?

If the airbag is 100% positively disabled, there is not much recent data to compare front to back seat. Proximity to the dash and windshield are considered to be the risk factor that is generally assumed to be higher risk than proximity to the seat back of the front seat.

Other variables may be involved. Is it a roomy back seat like in a full size crew cab truck, or is it a cramped back seat in a midsize pickup extended cab? If the seat is forward-facing, are there top tether anchors available for the front seat? Does the seat install correctly in both vehicle seating positions?

Also, if the method to disable the airbag is the fuse, you will need to make absolutely certain that there are no unintended consequences to other airbags or systems and consider that the hassle may cause you to forget to re-install it when an adult passenger is using the seat. Installing an on-off switch is the preferred method. There is additional information here- https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/air-bags
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
The airbag is the risk. You need to be 2000% sure there is no chance an airbag will deploy before you put a rear facing child in the front seat. I have no other hesitations about it.
 

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