Can A Child Ride In The Front Seat Of A Single Cab Truck?

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The sales of pickup trucks are on the rise in the US, and now many women prefer to drive a truck to the more traditional soccer mom minivan.

While trucks have some great multifunctional uses, they do also raise some questions and concerns on how you can transport children safely and how car seats can be fitted securely.

In this article, we have taken a look at the laws in different states and considered if trucks are a suitable vehicle for a family with young children.

Child Seat Belt Laws For Pickup Trucks

In the vast majority of states, children are required by law to ride in the back seat and be securely seated in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat.

Here lies one issue with trucks is that not all of them have rear seats and those that do are not suitable for securing a child or car seat safely.

As for most parents, safety is a top priority, especially when it comes to their little ones. Here are some tips for transporting children safely in a truck.

Back Seat

If you are driving a full-size pickup truck, there should be rear seats that you can safely attach a car seat or booster seat to.

Modern trucks will usually come with the LATCH system installed, this makes installing car seats correctly and safely every time almost idiot-proof.

If however, you are driving a pickup with a smaller body then there is a high possibility that you will struggle to fit a car seat correctly in this vehicle.

It is recommended by car seat manufacturers that 80-100% of the car seat base is in contact with the vehicle seat and that if the car seat is hanging over the vehicle seat at all, the chances are that the seat is not a good fit for that particular vehicle.

little girl in a car

In these smaller cab trucks, there is also the increasing likelihood that there will not be enough room for a rear-facing seat to be placed at the right angle.

The best advice would be to check the manual that comes with your car seat to understand what is a correct fit and what is not. Also, the owner’s manual for the vehicle will be able to offer you further advice with regard to car seat installation.

Front Seat

If the only option you have is to install a car seat in the front of your vehicle, you must ensure that the passenger-side airbags are disabled. Studies have shown that airbags can cause serious injury to children under twelve years of age. 

You should also note that according to Carseat.org, children riding in a car seat in the front of a vehicle have a 30% increased risk of death in the event of an accident.

Side Seats

side seats are considered one of the unsafest places for children to ride, whether in a car seat or using the adult seatbelt. With regard to car seats, these side seats are often not big enough to allow the seat to be installed correctly.

In the event of an accident, the passengers that are seated in these side seats are often injured not from the initial collision but from being propelled against the interior of the vehicle.

Safety Checks

No matter what vehicle you are using it is vitally important that the car seat you are using is regularly checked to ensure it is installed correctly and correctly adjusted for the growing child.

If you have any doubts that the car seat you are using is not fitting correctly in your vehicle or that your child has outgrown it then there are places that you can take it to be checked.

Many offer this service free of charge. Hospitals, school districts, fire departments, police departments, and some children’s stores offer these checks. 

You can check safecar.gov to find a local car seat inspection center.

Different Types of Truck Cabs

colored trucks

Regular (single)

Singla cab trucks have one have a single row of seats and also a single set of doors on each side of the vehicle.

Extended

Extended cab trucks have a single row of seats with a small space behind the row of seats where there is usually space for one or two smaller seats.

Crew

Crew cab trucks have two rows of seating and four doors like a typical car. Each of these different configurations of a truck will have separate rules and regulations for car seat installation.

Can You Put A Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck – The Legal Side 

Is it legal? The quick and very short answer is yes. There are a few conditions that need to be met in order for it to be considered legal.

Firstly, the seat in the vehicle needs to be able to support at least 85% of the car seat that you are installing. 

If the seat that you are installing is a forward-facing seat, your single cab truck should have a place for the top tether. This tether is essential because it will help to reduce the distance that the head travels by up to 6 inches if involved in a crash.

Rear-facing seats have a few extra conditions that need to be met. Firstly, they must never be installed in the front of any vehicle where there is an active airbag present.

If you are thinking of purchasing or already have a truck with a single row of seating this is something that you need to keep in mind.

There are quite a few American trucks that do have single-row seating and also have a key activated passenger airbag.

Tether Anchor Points In Your Truck

If you have any doubt as to where the tether point is in your truck you can consult the vehicle manual. However, all vehicles manufactured after 2001 will have a tether anchor located somewhere behind the rear seats.

1. Behind the Seat Anchors

Many trucks have their tether anchor behind the rear seat. This means that you will have to fold the seat down to find and reach the anchor point.

This can make installing a car seat a little tricky but it is, of course, paramount that you ensure that the car seat is correctly and securely installed.

2. Webbing Loops

Webbing loops are used in some trucks. These can be found behind the headrest.

To tether a car seat using webbing loops, you need to feed the seat tether through the loop behind the headrest and attach the anchor to the webbing loop behind the middle seat’s headrest.

 

3. Behind the Seat Loops

These loops are different from the tether anchors in cars. You should consult your vehicle manual to ensure that the car seat is fitted correctly.

Typically, the car seat tether will be fed through a webbing loop and then anchored to a seat loop directly behind the vehicle seat or the adjacent outboard position.

Once the car seat is tethered to your vehicle, the remaining installation is the same as it would be if you were installing the car seat in any other car.

The Law, Car Seats, and Trucks

While the rear seat is the safest place for a child, we know that not every person has that option.

National law does state that if your child’s seat is incompatible with the rear seat of your truck, or if your truck doesn’t have a rear seat, you can install the car seat safely in the front of the vehicle.

One of the most important rules when installing your child’s seat in the front is that it is not installed in front of an active airbag. This is because the force an airbag is deployed will do more harm than good to a young child.

Here are the seat belt laws for vehicles in Florida, Indiana, Arizona, and Texas.

Florida

Florida State Law states that all children under 5 years old need to be in a harness car seat designed specifically for the correct age and size of the child.

Children under 12 should be in the rear seats if possible. But if your truck does not have a rear seat, a child can sit in the front as long as the airbag is turned off or they are seated in the middle seat.

Indiana

Indiana State Law states that all children under the age of 16 need to be restrained in a vehicle. Children under the age of 8 should use a rear, forward, or booster child seat.

There isn’t a specific law that refers to a child riding in a single cab truck, but a common precaution is to turn the airbag off. 

Arizona

arizona

Arizona State Law states all children under the age of 8 are to make use of a child seat. It is recommended that children under the age of 3 are rear-facing.

It is recommended that children ride in the back seat, but AZ law states that it is okay for them to ride in the front as long as they use the correct seat for their age and that the airbag is disengaged.

Texas

Texas State Law has no specific legislation regarding where children should sit. If you are in Texas, it is recommended to have your child in an age-appropriate safety seat with the airbags in the off position.

The Final Thought

Although it is recommended that your child should travel in the rear of a vehicle, it is also acceptable for them to travel in front of a single cab truck. But there are a few conditions that need to be met.

They need to be traveling in an appropriate car seat for their age and size and the airbag is disengaged. If you have any concerns that your car seat is not correctly installed or is not suitable for your vehicle please seek professional help.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!