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two boys ride in backseat of car

Driving Through Delaware? Know The Front Seat Law (2024)

Delaware law requires children under the age of 12 or under 65” (5’5”) in height to sit in the backseat if the passenger seat has an active airbag.

If there is no front airbag or the airbag can be, and is, disabled, a child may ride in the front seat at any age, as long as they are properly secured in a child seat.

Delaware Front Seat Rules

Children must ride in the backseat of a vehicle in Delaware when:

  • The vehicle has an active front airbag.

Children must continue to ride in the backseat, away from an active front airbag, until they reach ONE of the following requirements:

  • Front Seat Age Delaware: 12 years
  • Front Seat Weight Delaware: unspecified
  • Front Seat Height Delaware: 65” (5’5”)

General Front Seat Law FAQ

two boys ride in backseat of car

When can a child sit in the front seat?

Legally, the age (or height) at which a child can sit in the front seat varies from state to state.

Some states have no laws preventing children from sitting in the front seats of vehicles regardless of age (even while still in car seats).

When it comes to safety, however, a child should not sit in the front seat of a vehicle until they are at least tall enough to properly fit a standard seatbelt (4’9”).

But the longer you can keep them in the backseat the better.

The CDC recommends all children under the age of 13 sit in the backseat of vehicles.

What is the purpose of front seat laws?

Studies have shown children under the age of 13 are safest in the backseats of cars.

More specifically, the center backseat is the safest place in a vehicle for a child.

This is why some states have laws forbidding children from riding in the front seat of vehicles until they reach a specific height or age.

Why is the front seat unsafe for children?

There are two main reasons the front seat of a car is unsafe for children.

One of the reasons children fare better in the backseat of a vehicle during an accident is because head-on collisions are one of the deadliest types of car crash.

Though they make up only 2% of all car crashes, head-on collisions account for over 10% of car crash deaths. (Rollovers are the only other accident type with such a disproportionate fatality rate for those inside the vehicle.)

Since the back seat is furthest from the front of the vehicle, it is the safest place to be in a head-on collision.

The second reason children fare better in the backseat of a vehicle during an accident is because the safety devices installed in cars to protect passengers during a collision are designed for adults.

Since airbags are designed for adults and not children, the impact of an air bag when deployed can cause more harm to a child than the accident itself.

Research conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found “children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury.”

The Safest Place For Kids Is The Backseat

While Delaware law says children may ride in the front seat at any age as long as there is no active air bag, we recommend following CDC guidelines and keeping your child in the backseat until age 13.

And, before that, follow Delaware’s laws regarding car seats and booster seats.

For more on Delaware’s car seat laws, see Delaware Car Seat Laws.

For more on Delaware’s booster seat laws, see Delaware Booster Seat Laws.

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