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small child sitting in front seat of car

There's a Reason Your Child Shouldn't Sit in the Front Seat

Children sitting in the front seat are in danger of being hurt in a car accident

Adults today may have fond memories of sitting in the front passenger seat as a child and playing with the car radio, but over the years, researchers have found that it is noticeably safer for smaller children to be in the back seat. Wisconsin’s requirements vary considerably by age and weight.

Why Can’t Smaller Kids Be in the Front?

A major issue for anyone sitting in front is the proliferation of airbags. While the front seat might have been safe decades ago, given that it was the only row of seats with shoulder belts then, nowadays it is actually riskier. If the airbag deploys, it will do so with great force. Kids — including teenagers — have more fragile bodies than adults. The force of the airbag can already injure adults, so you can guess how badly they might injure children. And yes, airbags can be fatal, even to teenagers.

So Kids Should Just Sit in Back?

Yes, but keep in mind the type of seat the child is in must meet varying Wisconsin DOT child seat safety requirements that depend on age and size. Kids over 8 years old can sit in front; you may want to have them sit in back anyway, but they won’t need a special seat. Kids between ages 4 and 8 who also weigh 40 to 80 pounds and who are 4’9″ or shorter need to be in back in a child seat or a booster seat. The seat can face forward or backward.

If the child is between the ages of 1 and 4 or weighs less than 40 pounds — in other words, a 5-year-old who weighs 39 pounds would be in this category — then the child must be in a child seat in the back seat. The child seat can face toward the front or back, but it can’t be a booster seat.

And finally, children less than 1 year old or who weigh less than 20 pounds have to be in a child seat that faces toward the back of the car. These rules apply to anyone driving in the state.

If you’ve received a ticket for not using the proper type of seat or having a child sit in front, contact Eisenberg Law Offices. A lawyer can try to help you reduce or eliminate your fine, as well as help you understand the different tiers upon which the law is based.