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This article was placed in the public domain by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The safest place for any child 12 years old and under is in the back seat.

Every child should be buckled in a child safety seat, a booster seat, or with a lap/shoulder belt, if it fits.

Riding with Babies

  • Infants up to about 20 pounds and up to 1 year old must ride in a rear-facing child seat. The child seat must be in the BACK seat and face the rear of the car, van, or truck. 
  • Babies riding in a car must never face front. In a crash or sudden stop, the baby's neck can be hurt badly. 
  • Infants in car seats must never ride in the front seat of a car with air bags. In a crash, the air bag can hit the car seat and hurt or kill the baby. 
  • Never hold your baby in your lap when you are riding in the car. In a crash or sudden stop, your child can be hurt badly or killed.

Riding with Young Kids

  • Kids over 20 pounds and at least 1 year old should ride in a car seat that faces the front of the car, van, or truck. 
  • It is best to keep kids in the foreward facing car seat for as long as they fit comfortably in it. 
  • Older kids over 40 pounds should ride in a booster seat until the car's lap and shoulder belts fit right. The lap belt must fit low and snug on their hips. The shoulder belt must not cross their face or neck. 
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arm.


  • All kids are safest in the back seat, in a safety seat or seat belt. 
  • Always read the child seat instructions and the car owner's manual. Test the child seat to ensure a snug fit by pulling the base to either side or toward the front of the car.
For additional information, please contact the NHTSA hotline at:
1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236), or the NHTSA Web site.

U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
August 1997

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