Installing your rear facing seat in the back seat is a good solution for many. But what is safest? Surprising to most, the front seat offer equal safety as the rear for a rear facing seat as long as the airbag is deactivated. This has been backed up by both research and real life use. Please not that this applies ONLY to rear facing seats and the airbag must be deactivated. It does not apply to any forward facing children in a belt positioning booster or harnessed seats.
The Swedes have been using the front passenger seat for the past 40 years with great results. Unknown to many, manufacturers such as Britax, BeSafe, Maxi-Cosi, Volvo, highly regarded organizations such as NTF, and top notch crash test facility VTI all say publicly that the front seat is a good place for a rear facing child.
You can learn more about what some well respected manufacturers and researchers are saying about rear facing children in the front seat by clicking here.
Does this mean installing a rear facing car seat in the front seat is a good idea for everyone? NO!
- In some countries, like for example US, airbags can’t be deactivated and there is obviously very little experience with using the front seat for a rear facing car seat. More importantly, research has shown that a large percentage of US parents make mistakes when airbag can be turned on/off with a key/switch. As you can hear, using the front seat for a rear facing seat is not possible or not a good idea in some cases.
- The safety aspects of the front seat are given as general information which may be useful regardless of location in the world. We do get many emails a from US parents asking about a rear facing car seat in the front seat of their van/truck. There may not be a back seat and some trucks do have an on/off switch. Since the front seat is a good place for a child, as long as rear facing and airbag deactivated, a parent might choose this option instead of using a seat belt only or a forward facing seat. Both would be drastically less safe.
You can read some more fact about rear facing in the front seat with an deactivated airbag by clicking here. You will find facts from well respected names which confirm the safety of the front seat.
Remember, the front seat might not be a desirbable position in some countries but offer excellent safety for a rearfacing child with a deactivated airbag.