AAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend all infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.
Parents and caregivers are often anxious to turn their young children forward-facing in their car seats too soon. However, due to their underdeveloped bodies, children below the age of 2 who ride forward-facing are at a greater risk of head, neck and spinal cord injuries if involved in a collision.
Older children may also be at risk of injury if riding in the front seat before they are ready. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 60 percent of vehicle crashes are frontal impacts and 20 percent are side impacts.
Children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat because they are typically not large enough to safely ride in the front seat and can be seriously injured by front passenger air bags in the event of a crash. This is especially significant since a recent AAA Consumer PulseTM survey of Wisconsin parents revealed that 84 percent have allowed, or plan to allow, their child to sit in the front seat prior to that age. Almost half (47 percent) reported that they either have or will do so at age 10 or younger.
AAA and the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation encourage adults to set a good example for children by buckling up every trip regardless of seat location.