Deciding when a child is old enough to sit in the front passenger seat isn’t entirely up to parents. Illinois law has strict guidelines set by the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act (ICPPA). The ICPPA is a one-stop guide for parents that explains all the laws and safety regulations needed to keep your children aged 0–12 as safe as possible while riding in your vehicle.
Why Are Front-Seat Laws Needed in Illinois?
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of severe injury and death for children in Illinois. Laws that regulate where and how children sit are designed to reduce injury in case of an accident and reduce accidents themselves. Drivers who are distracted by children climbing over seats or creating distracting situations have a higher risk of getting into crashes.
The Centers for Disease Control found that laws requiring children to use seat belts, booster seats, car seats, and appropriate seats for their age, height, and weight reduce injuries and deaths. Children aged 4–8 years who use age-appropriate restraints are 20% less likely to receive a fatal injury in a crash than those who are not following seat laws.
How Old Does a Child Have To Be To Sit in the Front Seat in Illinois?
To be within the law, a child who is over eight years old can ride in the front seat with an adult driver. However, the front seat is still not necessarily the safest option for all children based solely on age.
ICPPA regulations should be thought of as a baseline for deciding when kids are safe to sit in the front seat. The child’s height and weight can affect how the seat belt fits and functions. Inexperienced drivers who may be distracted by having a child in the front seat might opt to keep younger passengers safely buckled in the rear seats.
The maturity of the child is another consideration to make. Kids who are not yet able to control their hands or refrain from distracting the driver may be safer riding in the back seat. A failure to keep passengers under control could even be viewed as negligence in the case of an accident.
Passenger-side airbags pose an extreme hazard to young children. The impact of an airbag can be severe, with the potential to cause serious injury and even death. However, disabling airbags is only advised if recommended by a pediatrician. To help decrease the possibility of airbag injury, move the seat back as far as it will go.
Joliet parents and other drivers must remember that even though allowing preteens to sit in the front passenger seat is within the law, the back seat remains the safest place for children.
Your Child’s Safety Is the Priority
Illinois car seat safety laws may not be perfect, but they have been put in place based on a number of health and industry regulations. The goal is not to make a parent’s job harder but to reduce the chances of children being seriously injured in a car accident.
Sometimes, parents can feel like they are glorified Uber drivers who are transporting their children from one event to the next. The temptation to relax the rules when things become hectic is understandable, but doing so can also be dangerous. Keeping passengers of all ages properly restrained may help you avoid an auto accident and protect against serious injury if one should occur.