The Age Kids Can Sit in the Front Seat of a Car by State

Children in Texas must be at least 8 years old to sit in the front seat of a car BUT the laws vary by state with most not having any law at all, only strong guidelines as to the recommended minimum age.

A total of 28 or 55% of all the states in the US do not have a law on the books dictating a minimum age for kids to be able to sit in the front seat of a car but most of these do carry strong recommended ages.

The required or recommended age kids can sit in the front seat of a car are rooted in reducing the risk of injury and death among our young passengers. However, most states do not have a law in place for required minimum age and weight for a child to be able to sit in the front seat of a car. Many states do recommend a minimum age or following the recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which is 13 years of age.

State governments have enacted a suite of rules that dictate various aspects of car safety for children, including the appropriate use of child car seats, booster seats, and, in this article, where in the car children should be seated. A full guide by state including additional laws around age and weight for rear and front-facing car seats, booster seats and graduating to seat belts can be found.

A complete guide by state specifying the minimum age kids can sit in the front seat of a car is below.

Child sitting in front seat of car - Age kids can ride in the front seat by state

State Summary of State’s Law  Associated Links
Alabama No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least age 13. No State Law
Alaska No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. They can be any age as long as they are properly restrained. No State Law
Arizona No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Arkansas No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
California State law requires children to be at least 8 years old and more than 57 inches tall to legally sit in the front seat. Law: § 23670
Colorado State Law requires children to be at least 2 years old and more than 20 pounds to sit in front seat but recommends children be at least age 13. Law: § 42-4-236 (2)(a)(II)
Connecticut No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Delaware State law requires children to be at least 12 years old and more than 65 inches tall to legally sit in the front seat. Law: § 4803
District of Columbia No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Florida No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Georgia State law requires children 8 years and older. Law:  § 40-8-76 (2022)
Hawaii No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Idaho No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Illinois No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Indiana State law requires children to be 13 years and older to legally sit in the front seat unless there is no back seat available. Law:  § 27360
Iowa No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Kansas No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Kentucky No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Louisiana State law requires children to be 13 years and older to legally sit in the front seat unless there is no back seat available. Law:  § RS 32:295
Maine State law requires children to be 12 years and older and a minimum 100 pounds to legally sit in the front seat if possible. Law:  § 2080-3-C
Maryland No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Massachusetts No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Michigan State law requires children to be 4 years and older to legally sit in the front seat but safety experts recommend age 13. Law:  § 257.710d
Minnesota No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Mississippi No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Missouri No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Montana No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Nebraska State law requires children to be at least 8 years and older to legally sit in the front seat. Law:  § 60-6,267
Nevada No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
New Hampshire  No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
New Jersey State law requires children 8 years and older and more than 57 inches tall. Law:  § 39:3-76.2a
New Mexico State Law requires children to be at least 2 years old to legally sit in front seat. Law:  § 66-7-369
New York No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
North Carolina State law requires children to be at least 5 years old and a minimum 40 pounds to legally sit in the front seat. State Law
North Dakota No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Ohio State law requires children to be at least 4 years old and a minimum 40 pounds to legally sit in the front seat. Law:  § 5101:2-9-32
Oklahoma No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends all children sit in the back seat of a car. No State Law
Oregon No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Pennsylvania No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Rhode Island State law requires children to be at least 8 years old to legally sit in the front seat. Law:  § 31-22-22 
South Carolina If there is a rear seat in a vehicle and if there are seats left in the rear seat, state law requires children to be at least 8 years old to legally sit in the front seat. Law:  § 56-5-6420
South Dakota No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Tennessee State law requires children to be at least 9 years old and more than 57 inches tall to legally sit in the front seat. Law:  § 59-5-602
Texas No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. However, the law does dictate kids younger than 8 years old OR under 4’9 tall must be in the appropriate safety seat system wherever the child sits in the vehicle. Section 545.412
Utah No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. No State Law
Vermont State law requires children to be at least 2 years old and more than 20 pounds to legally sit in the front seat but recommends children be at least 13. Law:  § 1258
Virginia State law requires children to be at least 8 years old to legally sit in the front seat of a car unless there is no back seat available. Law:  § 46.2-1095
Washington State law requires children to be at least 13 years old to legally sit in the front seat when practical. Law:  § 46.61.687-1f
West Virginia No state law exists requiring a minimum age for kids to sit in the front seat of a vehicle but recommends children be at least 13. No State Law
Wisconsin State law requires children to be at least 13 years old to legally sit in the front seat of a car. Law:  DCF 252.09-6d
Wyoming State law requires children to be at least 9 years old to legally sit in the front seat of a car but recommends children be at least 13. Law:  § 31-5-1303

Age and Weight Restrictions: Is There a One-Size-Fits-All?

The majority of state regulations emphasize either age or weight as the primary determinant of when kids can safely transition to the front seat. For example, kids may need to be at least 13 years old or weigh more than 80 pounds to sit in the front seat, with the rationale that children need to have reached a certain level of physical development to endure the force of an airbag deployment.

Is There an Age That’s Universal for Age that Kids Can sit in the Front Seat?

Surprisingly, no. While some states have clear-cut age guidelines – 12 or 13 being common benchmarks – others have left the decision in the hands of the drivers and guardians, stating more amorphous rules like “when it is safe.” These vague policies can leave parents second-guessing themselves and highlight the need for an understanding of best safety practices.

What Are the States’ Similarities?

The biggest similarity is there is NO law at all requiring a minimum age to for a child to sit in the front seat of a car by state. However, certain key elements related to child passenger safety are in fact consistent across all states, such as adequate and appropriate use of child restraints. These similarities, despite the general divergence in front seat laws, do reflect a collective priority on child safety, mitigating the confusion somewhat.

Kids Sitting in the Front Seat of a Car: What Can We Learn From Accident Statistics?

When we keep our kids in the back seat of a vehicle longer, we reduce the injury risk by 64%. The grim reality of child car accident statistics underscores the severity of the risks involved in early front-seat travel. The odds of injury are markedly higher for children involved in crashes when they are in the front as opposed to the back, highlighting the wisdom in keeping them out of harm’s way. We dissect these figures and share insights into how they can inform your parenting decisions and travel procedures.

Parental Dilemmas: Age Kids Can Sit in the Front Seat

The Gray Areas: When Is It Safe, and Who Decides?

Sometimes, the decision of when to allow your kids to sit in the front seat doesn’t seem black and white. Numerous factors, from the onset of peer pressure to the layout of your car, can influence this choice. We explore these gray areas, offering practical considerations that can help ease the burden of decision-making. Many states have laws to make the decision for you as to a minimum age that it is safe unless as a parent you believe it should be an older age.

Beyond the Legal Limits: Emotional and Social Considerations

While some states provide laws as an overarching framework for when a child can sit in the front seat of a car, the emotional and social considerations of where your child sits are equally important. Is your child ready to handle the responsibility and potential danger of front-seat travel? How do your peers and community view this choice? This section dives into the personal aspects of front-seat travel and offers guidance on how to approach these more nuanced dynamics.

Weighing in on a Sensitive Topic

After a thorough examination of the complex web of laws, recommendations, statistics, and socio-cultural factors that dictate at what age kids can sit in the front seat of a car, one thing is clear: the landscape is multifaceted and constantly shifting. Keeping abreast of the laws is important and equally vital to understand the context in which these regulations exist. Trustworthy information, prudence, and a keen understanding of your child’s development are the cornerstones of parental decision-making in the realm of child transportation.

Thompson Law provides this complete guide by state laying out all the laws and strong recommendations as to what age kids can sit in the front seat of a car. To maintain a solid grasp on the ever-changing realm of child passenger safety laws, several resources are at your disposal including this one. From state government websites that regularly update their laws to national organizations that provide comprehensive safety guidelines, our article provides a roadmap to staying informed.

Ensuring child safety in transit is a shared responsibility that requires not only vigilance and compliance with laws but also a holistic approach that respects the uniqueness of each child and family. As we move forward, equipped with knowledge and a shared commitment to safety, we can create a community that cherishes the young and safeguards their rights to a secure adolescence and beyond.

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Call us at today for a free consultation. There’s never a fee unless we win your case.

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