At What Age Can Kids Sit in the Front Seat of a Car in Pennsylvania? 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the state. Even the loss of one child is too many, but a staggering 1,184 children under the age of 14 died in traffic accidents across Pennsylvania in 2021. 

The use of proper restraints can keep your child safe if an accident should occur. Finding the right car seat for your child’s age and making sure to install it correctly is a start. However, one dangerous mistake some parents make is allowing their children to sit in the front seat — restrained or not — while they are still too young. 

Pennsylvania Child Safety Laws

The laws for child passenger safety are different from state to state. If you are a new parent or new to the Keystone State, you may not be aware of Pennsylvania’s guidelines. 

Birth To Two Years Old

Children must be securely fastened in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the maximum size limits designated by the manufacturer of that specific seat. By law, any child under the age of two needs to ride in a rear-facing seat. 

Two To Four Years Old

Children must be securely restrained in an approved safety seat placed anywhere in the vehicle. It is recommended to keep children in this age group in a rear-facing seat. 

Four To Eight Years Old

Children must be restrained in a forward-facing booster seat appropriate for their size and height. When the child outgrows the height and/or weight limit of the booster seat, they are ready to transition to a seat belt. 

Eight Years Old and Older

Children must be restrained in a seat belt that fits properly. Proper fit means the belt fits snugly across the upper thighs, not on the stomach. The shoulder belt should fit across the child’s chest and shoulder, not the neck or face. 

While the law states that children as young as two can be placed anywhere in a vehicle, PDT still recommends that children 12 and under should ride in the back seat. 

Penalties For Violating Pennsylvania Car Seat Regulations

The fine for a car seat violation in Pennsylvania is $75 for a first offense, plus any applicable court and filing costs. To comply with the law, drivers must provide a safety seat that fits their child’s age, weight, and height. 

PennDOT maintains more than 75 fitting stations for car seats. Drivers will not typically be issued a fine for incorrect car seat installation, but ensuring the seat is installed correctly offers the best protection for your child. Find a fitting station in Pennsylvania by searching the Safe Kids Website. 

More Recommendations

Pennsylvania law does not specify the age a child can ride in the front seat because age is not the only consideration for safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children 13 and under ride in the back seat to avoid injury. According to the AAP, a child is ready to sit in the front seat only when the seat belt fits them properly. 

Keep Your Child Safe – Don’t Take the Risk

A small fine is nothing compared to the safety of your child. Sitting in the front seat is more likely to put your child in the direct line of a collision. In addition, airbags are designed to protect adults. An airbag inflates at approximately the height of a child’s head, potentially causing a serious and even fatal airbag injury. For their sake, keep your child properly restrained in the back seat for as long as possible.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963