I'm not comfortable with having DD1 (4) next to me in the car. She sits in her booster seat in the back. Hwoever, one of the other Mums asked if I would pick up her DD from nursery for her. I had to make an excuse because:
a) I only have one booster seat
b) Someone would have had to sit in front because have a DD2 in front facing baby seat also in the back.
Then I noticed that several mums seem to have their child sitting next to them in the car. Am I just being overly protective? I always had in my head that 7 is about the right age to go in passenger seat. Also passenger seat doesn't have an airbag.
Legally - any age. The law only calls for the use of appropriate child restraints 'where available'.
Sensibly, I would say it is more to do with size than age.
DS1's best friend sits in the front seat all the time. I will let DS1 do it only if the car is full and we have no other option. They are both 7, but the friend is an inch taller and the seat belt fits him correctly.
Booster seats are ther to get them to the correct height for the seat belt and more importantly, the airbag. A 9 year old can be injured by an airbag when sat directly on the seat and is relatively ok if an airbag goes off and they are on the booster.
My 9yr old ds still has his booster and loves it... he says it is because he gets a better view, and I'm not arguing with that one IYSWIM
*Cars - Children Aged 3 to 11 years and under 1.5 metres tall*
If carried in the front seat, an appropriate child restraint MUST be worn *IF AVAILABLE*.
If not, an adult seat belt MUST be worn.
If carried in the rear seat, an appropriate child restraint MUST be worn *IF AVAILABLE*.
If not, an adult seat belt MUST be worn *IF AVAILABLE*.
If an appropriate restraint or seat belt is fitted in the front of the car, but not in the rear, children between 3 to 11 years old and under 1.5 metres tall MUST use that restraint or seat belt. (Remember, you could move the restraint from the front to the rear if you wish).
I've only had my ds in the front seat once when the back seat was flat to move something. He was quite small but kept on kicking the car out of gear and the crosser I got the more hilarious he thought it was. Never again!
I used to have ds in the front seat (before dd came along). He used both rear facing & forward facing child seats but IMPORTANTLY I had NO PASSANGER AIRBAG. My reasoning was that I was less likely to have a crash passing toys/bottles to him sitting next to me than behind me. Besides we were company for each other.
Since dd arrived they both sit in the back and keep each other company instead.
I don't think airbags are safe with kids under 12. They sometimes kill small adults, generally women under 5'.
That being said, I don't think putting a kid in the front seat, even with an airbag, for short occassional journeys, is too bad. But I've read it's best avoided for kids under 12. Our kids never ride in the front seat. I would let DS1 ride in the front seat if I had to, though.