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Parents: Why Infants Shouldn't Ride 'Shotgun'

Are you following the car seat safety recommendations for your kids?

Long gone are the days of kids racing out the door calling "shotgun." Sheesh, my kids would be clueless as to what that means, just like they have no idea what a record player is.

As parents, we all do some , and probably even some things we’re not proud of. But the other day shocked me. In the parking lot of Safeway, I saw a woman put an infant carrier seat in the front passenger seat of her car. She had three other young kids who piled into the back seat. I cringed, knowing that the front seat is the absolute worst place for an infant carrier to be placed. The force of the airbag if deployed is incredibly powerful and could be detrimental to a child sitting there.

As she drove away, I kept thinking about her. Clearly, I have no idea what situation this woman was in. But since I'm still thinking about her days later, I'm taking this opportunity to review the .

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Maryland car seat laws recommends that children under the age of 13 are safest when seated in the back seat. And the front seat of my car, the passenger seat visor warns of air bag risks for infant seats and children.

Here is a summary of car seat recommendations:

First and foremost, infants belong in a rear facing car seat, properly installed in the back seat of the car, until they are two years of age. Then the toddler should move to a forward facing seat, until they reach the maximum height/weight limits. Children should be in this type of seat with a harness for as long as possible.

Until the child is at least 8 years old and is 4 feet 9 inches tall, they should use a belt positioning booster seat to ensure the seat belt sits at the proper location. Until children are 13 years old, they should always sit in the rear seat of the car, with a seat belt securely fastened.  

There are even fines for drivers who don’t properly restrain children in their vehicles. So, while you may think you’re only running to the store or just riding to the bus stop, it’s against the law. It’s better practice to always have your child sit in their seat, properly restrained.

Are you ever shocked by things parents do? How strictly do you follow the AAP recommendations with your children? Tell us in the comments.

Tim August 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I would contribute my thoughts about people like this here, but it's probably better that I don't.
Steve August 21, 2012 at 04:30 PM
What kind of car was it? There are still plenty of cars on the road with no passenger side airbag. I have two of them. My BMW for one, and it has exactly the same frontal and side impact crash test rating for front and rear seat passengers. If I wanted to put my child in the front seat (which I don't because my wife rides up there) they would be no more at risk than in the back. My old 4X4 has a partial roll cage that affords extreme protection for front seat passengers but not much for the rear. A child is far safer in the front. If the author or Tim saw me with a child in the front of either of these vehicles they would assume I was some kind of careless monster. I don't rely on government-mandated generalizations. I rely on knowledge of my particular vehicles and common sense.
Evets August 21, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Also to be avoided: Riding in the passenger seat with your feet on the dashboard. That airbag goes off and your knees will be filled with teeth.
FIFA August 21, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Like a bird, the last thing you will see is your 5 hole.
Evets August 21, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I am not exactly sure what that means, but I like it...
FIFA August 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Draw a line between your ankles, then a 90 degree line due north, you will find your 5 hole. A baseball term when the ball goes through your legs. Ha ha.
Nancy E Gaither August 22, 2012 at 12:05 AM
What a "spot on" article! Well done. Reminds me of the part in the movie the Blind Side when Michael Oher stopped the airbag from killing SJ (true story). "The doctors were amazed that his facial injuries weren’t more severe. It was then that Michael held out his arm to show Leigh Anne the unsightly burn mark that ran down the length of it." I say kids are too precious and you can't do enough to protect 'em!
Stacey Schantz August 22, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I'm guilty of this, I always do it on long trips, and know it's so stupid...
Stacey Schantz August 22, 2012 at 12:57 AM
It was a newer model car. I have a 5 year old car, and my front seat is "smart" and if the item weighs less than 90 pounds supposedly it turns off the front passenger airbag. Still I wouldn't trust my car with my infant in the front seat. Children belong in the back seat, where the windshield is farthest away... in my opinion.
Stacey Schantz August 22, 2012 at 12:58 AM
That is a great movie... Thank you for reminding me of that scene. A great "lesson" for when my kids start begging to sit up front.
Tim August 22, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Dashboard, try out the window LOL. People are nuts.

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