Children under the age of one year old and children under 20 pounds must be secured in rear-facing car seats in Vermont.
Rear-facing car seats may not be installed in front of active front airbags.
This gives Vermont a de facto front seat age under certain conditions.
Front Seat Requirement Vermont
According to Vermont’s child restraint laws, children must ride in rear-facing car seats in the backseats of vehicles until they reach BOTH of the following:
- Front Seat Age Vermont: 1 year
- Front Seat Weight Vermont: 20 lbs.
This law only applies if there is an active airbag in the front passenger seat.
It is legal to transport a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle if the airbag can be, and is, turned off.
But it’s not advised.
Like most states, Vermont recommends ALL children ride in the rear seats of vehicles until age 13 for optimal protection.
- Age To Sit In Front Seat In Vermont Guideline: 13 years
General Front Seat Law FAQ
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 Vermont law says children may ride in the front seat as long as they are not in a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag, we recommend following CDC guidelines and keeping your child in the backseat until age 13.
And, before that, follow Vermont’s laws regarding car seats and booster seats.
For more on Vermont’s car seat laws, see Vermont Car Seat Laws.
For more on Vermont’s booster seat laws, see Vermont Booster Seat Laws.