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At what age can a child sit in the front seat of an automobile?

Mike Voorheis

According to N.C. law, children less than age 5 and less than 40 pounds must sit in the back seat of any vehicle with passenger-side airbags.

Safety organizations, though, advise leaving kids in the back until they are 12 or 13. And children who are under 80 pounds should still sit in booster seats, even if they do sit in the front.

Here’s the best resource for information on this topic:


NOTE: This 2014 answer replaces an earlier MyReporter answer on the topic.


In North Carolina, are children allowed to sit or eat at the bar in a restaurant?

Are there preschool programs in New Hanover County schools for children who miss the cutoff?



User-contributed question by:
Billie Patts

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6 Responses to “ At what age can a child sit in the front seat of an automobile?”

  1. On May 5, 2015 at 6:20 pm Tricia Korie wrote:

    Seriously, though. My 6 year old sister sometimes sits in the front and she is under 80 pounds without a booster seat! Plus, she is always safe. You should rethink this guys!

  2. On January 6, 2016 at 5:28 pm Alysha horm wrote:

    If you think your 6 year old sister is safe in the front seat you are mistaken. This is absolutely ridiculous. The law in all states should be until 12 or 13 they need to be in the back seat. Im seriously disgusted by this.

  3. On May 30, 2016 at 1:03 am Dana wrote:

    I agree with the laws as stated. My oldest daughter is 10 and weighs 65 lbs. because of her height (and because the law allows it) we let her sit in the backseat without a booster seat anymore. However, my youngest daughter is 9 and weighs 48 lbs and is petite in height so even though she’s “old enough” by law to just use a seat belt in the back seat, we still have her use her booster seat. It’s about keeping your kids (any child) safe. That should be your priority.

    The young lady who thought her 6 year old sister could sit safely in the front seat is clearly to young to understand the dangers involved while riding in a vehicle. Even a sudden slamming of your brakes could cause injury to a buckled and non buckled passenger or driver without impacting an object.

  4. On April 18, 2017 at 9:51 am Walter Stroud wrote:

    What if your vehicle does not have a backseat? Let’s say a regular cab pickup. JS

  5. On April 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm Stacie Greene Hidek wrote:

    You can get full information on the law and safety recommendations by clicking on the link in the answer above. But it is legal, though not necessarily recommended, for children to be in the front seat if there is no backseat. Read the details at the link for details on car seats and restraints in these situations.

  6. On November 12, 2017 at 8:42 am Monica johnson wrote:

    Well my daughter is SOLID shes 6 and weighs 108 pounds she rides in the front seat. Shes tall and looks like a third grader. It all depends on age/weight.

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