The Network was recently contacted for information on child car safety law in Missouri — specifically, about requirements related to allowing a child to ride in the front seat of a pickup truck.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children ages 12 years and younger ride in the back seat of cars and outlines specific stages for car seats, booster seats and seat belts. Safe Kids Worldwide says for the best protection, keep babies in a rear-facing seat in the back seat of a car for as long as possible because this provides the best support for the head, neck and spine. Once a child is around two and outgrows a rear-facing car seat, a front-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle is recommended.
Many states’ laws require all children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, but a number of states do not have this requirement. In Missouri, the law does not indicate a preference for young children to ride in the back seat over the front seat, and does not specify whether car seats could be placed in the front seat of vehicles. What Missouri law does require is that a child who is less than four years of age, no matter how much he or she weighs, be secured in a “child passenger restraint system,” meaning a car seat that’s appropriate for the child.
States that have the rear seat requirement allow for front seat placement in certain circumstances. Michigan allows rear-facing car seats in front seats only if the “front passenger air bag is deactivated.” Virginia permits rear-facing car seats in front seats when the vehicle does not have a back seat and the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the airbag is deactivated. Similarly, in New Jersey, if a vehicle does not have a back seat -- like a pickup truck -- a car seat or booster seat can be placed in the front seat with the passenger-side airbag disabled.
A state-by-state summary of passenger safety laws can be found here.
Need more information?