Q&A - When Should My Child Ride in the Front Seat?

Q&A ImageQuestion: Is there an age restriction for children sitting in the front seat? My child is 11 and always sits in the back, but at what age can he sit in the front without using a child restraint and worrying about harm from the airbag, etc?

Buckled into the front seat without child restraint


The first place to look would be in your vehicle's owners manual. The manufacturer that designed the system should have a complete set of recommendations to follow there for you.

The Centre of the Rear Seat is Safest

Sitting in the back seat is not as nice as when you can sit up front and see what is going on around you more easily, but the centre position of the rear seat is probably the safest place to be when the vehicle is involved in a collision. You've made a very wise choice when you have your children sit there.

No Age Restriction

There are mostly no age restrictions for sitting in the front seat in BC traffic law. The age restrictions all relate to what kind of restraint is used and who is responsible for making sure that they are used. What is used to set various restraint requirements is the height and weight of the child.

B.C. Laws

Seat belts are dealt with in Section 220 of the Motor Vehicle Act and child restraints in Division 36 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. There are also rules about what a proper seating position is in Division 39 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

Child Restraint Resources

There are many reputable sources of information on the web concerning seating and child restraint. One of them is the Child Car Seat Safety area of Transport Canada's website.

Car Seats, Seat Belts and Your Child suggests that children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

Body Size as an Indicator

However, child body size is probably a better indicator than age. If your child cannot sit with their back against the seat back and their legs bent comfortably at 90 degrees over the front of the seat, they are probably still too small to use the front seat safely.

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