Middle of the back seat is the safest position for car seat in your car. This is because it is the farthest away from the front of the car, which is where most of the impact in a frontal collision occurs.
And also airbags deploy from the front of the car, so if you are too close to the front, the air bag can actually injure you instead of protecting you. So it’s important to be in the middle of the back seat.
If you can’t be in the middle, the next best position is the passenger side of the back seat.
The driver’s side is actually the least safe position in a car because it’s closest to oncoming traffic if you’re in a head-on collision.
And also because it’s closest to the driver’s door, which can be opened during a crash and cause you to be ejected from the car.
After reading so many articles on car safety, we have made this guide for the best position for the car seat in your car. Do make sure to follow this guide for the safety of you and your family.
In this guide, we will explain the safest position for car seat in your car. We’ll also give some tips on how to keep your child safe while riding in the car.
How Do You Position Child Car Seats in Cars?
A study from Pediatrics tells us children from birth to age 3, sitting in the center of the back seat, are 43% less likely to be injured in a crash than if they were sitting on the side of the back seat.
In order to correctly position a child car seat in a car, first we have to understand the positions available in a car seat. There are 4 positions in a car where we can place a child car seat:
- The front passenger seat (if the airbag is turned off)
- The middle of the back seat
- The side of the back seat behind driver
- The side of the back seat behind passenger
Let’s take a look at each position and see which is the safest for your child.
The front passenger seat:
If the car has an airbag on the passenger side, it is not safe to put a child car seat in the front.
If the car doesn’t have an airbag on the passenger side, it is still not the safest place for a child car seat because in a front-end collision, the impact could crush the child against the back of the seat.
You can place a child car seat in rear-facing position on front passenger seat if you switch off the airbag but it is not recommended.
If you must put the seat in the front, be sure that your child is far away from the dashboard and that the seat is securely fastened to the car.
The middle of the back seat:
This is the safest place for a child car seat because it is farthest away from the impact of a front-end collision. But make sure, middle rear seat must have a three-point seat belt to secure the seat.
If your car doesn’t have a three-point seat belt in the middle and only have lap-only belt, use the seat belt and secure the car seat at the diagonally opposite belt path.
If you have Isofix system in your car, you can use that to secure the car seat only in the middle of the back seat.
You must use manufacturer’s instructions on how to secure the car seat using Isofix or seat belt when positioning the seat in the middle of the back seat.
The side of the back seat behind driver:
If you can, use other rear seats not behind driver because they will be safer.
Let’s say, if you place child car seat behind driver seat and there is a front-end collision, or getting in and out can be dangerous if there is traffic nearby.
Or the child could be hit by the driver’s seat or by the traffic from the driver’s side.
If you park on the driver’s side to the pavement then this position is better than other rear position because getting in and out will be on the pavement side which is much safer.
The side of the back seat behind passenger:
This position is same as the side of the back seat behind driver but on the passenger’s side.
The only difference is that, if you park on the passenger’s side to the pavement, then this position is better than other rear position because getting in and out will be on the pavement side which is much safer.
But make sure you have to install and fasten the car seat correctly.
To sum up, the safest place for a child car seat is in the middle of the back seat.
But if you can’t position the seat in the middle, the next safest place is on the side of the back seat behind the driver or passenger.
And finally, if you must put the seat in the front, be sure that your child is far away from the dashboard and that the seat is securely fastened to the car.
What is The Safest Placement for All Types Of Car Seats
To know how to correctly position a child car seat in a vehicle, it is important to first understand the different types of seats that are available.
Depending on the type of car seat and the size of your child, you will need to adjust the positioning of the seat.
There are three main types of car seats for children: rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats, and booster seats.
In general, it is safest for children to ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years old.
After that, they can ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they reach the height or weight limit for that seat.
Once they outgrow the forward-facing seat, they can use a booster seat until they are big enough to use a seat belt alone.
The position of the car seat also matters. The best position for a rear-facing seat is in the middle of the back seat.
For a forward-facing seat, the best position is in the middle of the back seat or behind the passenger.
And for a booster seat, the best position is behind the driver or passenger.
When positioning any type of car seat, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You should also make sure that the seat is properly secured in the car and that the harness or seat belt is snug and properly positioned on your child.
Where is The Safest place for a car seat in a minivan or SUV
The best position for a car seat in a minivan or SUV depends on the arrangement of row seating in minivan or SUV and the type of car seat.
For example, if your minivan or SUV has third-row seating and you have a rear-facing car seat, the best position for the seat would be in the middle of the second row.
This will allow you to have easy access to your child and avoid having to contort yourself to reach them.
If your minivan or SUV has bench in the middle row, the best position for a rear-facing seat would be in the center of the middle row.
Conversely, the best position for a forward-facing seat would be on one of the side seats in the middle row.
If your vehicle has bench seats in the back rows then the best position for the car seat is in the center of each row.
Where is The Safest Place for 2 Car Seats
To install 2 car seats in a vehicle depends on the positions of car seat you are installing that is either forward-facing position or rear-facing position.
If both the car seats are in a rear-facing position or forward-facing position, the safest place for the younger child is in the middle and the safest place for the older child is behind the front passenger seat.
And if your children are twins then it is best to place them side-by-side in the back seat. Means one is in the middle and other is behind the passenger seat.
If one car seat is in a rear-facing position and another is in a forward-facing position then the safest place for the rear-facing seat is behind the passenger seat and the safest place for the forward-facing seat is in the middle.
Once you have selected the correct position for each car seat, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the seats.
You should also make sure that the seats are properly secured in the car and that the harnesses or seat belts are snug and properly positioned on each child.
When Is The Center NOT The Safest Location?
The center location becomes the safest location only when the installation is done correctly.
If not, then the center is not safe at all. There are many things that can go wrong during installation, so it’s important to be careful and make sure everything is done right.
Otherwise, you could end up putting yourself and your family in danger.
If the center seat is not the safest location, then where is the safest place to install a car seat?
The answer may surprise you, but the safest place to install a car seat is actually behind the passenger seat.
This is because it puts the car seat in a more stable position and keeps it from moving around as much in the event of an accident.
How To Avoid 15 Common Car Seat Mistakes?
Car seats are one of the most important pieces of baby gear you’ll need, but they can also be one of the most confusing.
If you’re not using your car seat correctly, you could be putting your child in danger. Here are 9 common mistakes parents make with car seats – and how to avoid them.
Not reading the manual
Before you even put your child in their car seat, make sure you read the manual. The manual will tell you everything you need to know about installing and using the seat correctly.
Not installing the car seat properly
Many parents think they’ve installed their car seat correctly, but they haven’t. Make sure you follow the instructions in the manual, or get help from a certified car seat technician.
Straps that are too loose
The straps on your car seat should be snug, but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers under the strap at the child’s shoulder. If you can’t, the strap is too loose and needs to be tightened.
The harness on your car seat should be positioned at or below your child’s shoulders. If it’s positioned too high, it could slip off their shoulders in a crash.
According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, only 50% of parents use the top tether when they have a forward-facing car seat.
The top tether is a strap that attaches the car seat to an anchor point in the vehicle, and it helps keep the seat from moving too much in a crash.
Forward Facing Too Soon
Most parents move their child to a forward-facing car seat too soon. Your child should be in a rear-facing seat until they’re at least 2 years old.
Or, ideally, until they reach the maximum height or weight limit for the seat.
Placing the car seat in the front seat
The safest place for your child’s car seat is in the back seat. If you have a passenger airbag, it could deploy and injure your child if they’re in a forward-facing seat in the front.
Placing items in the car seat
Don’t put any toys, blankets, or other items in the car seat with your child. These can be a distraction and could prevent you from getting your child out quickly in an emergency.
Not replacing a damaged car seat
If your car seat has been in a crash, even a minor one, it needs to be replaced. The same goes for car seats that are more than 5 years old or have been recalled.
Don’t look at Expiration Dates
Expiration dates are important! All car seats have them, and they’re there for a reason.
If your seat is expired, it may not provide the same level of protection in a crash. Check the expiration date on your seat, and don’t use it if it’s expired.
Not understanding the types of car seats
There are different types of car seats for different ages and stages. Make sure you understand the difference between rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats before you buy one.
Not registering your seat
When you buy a car seat, make sure you register it with the manufacturer. This way, you’ll be notified if there’s a recall.
Not knowing the law
Each state has different laws about car seat use. Make sure you know the laws in your state so you can be sure you’re using your seat correctly.
Reclining the seat too much
When you have a rear-facing car seat, it’s important to recline the seat at the correct angle. This can be different for each seat, so make sure you consult the manual.
Reclining the seat too much could cause your child to slip out of the harness in a crash.
Getting Rid of Booster Seats Too Soon
Too many children grow out of their booster seats too soon. It’s important to position the seat belt correctly on your kid’s body with a booster seat.
If they’re not using one, the seat belt could ride up into their face or neck in a crash.
Following these tips will help you keep your child safe while they’re in the car.
And always remember, if you have any questions about car seat safety, you can always contact a certified car seat technician in your area.
Safest Position For Car Seats: FAQs
Should car seat go behind driver or passenger?
It is recommended that you place the car seat in the backseat in the center. This is because it is typically safer in the event of a collision.
However, if your vehicle does not have a backseat or if the backseat is not big enough to accommodate a car seat, then you can place the seat behind the driver or behind the passenger seat.
Are car seats Safe in third row?
Yes, if your vehicle has a third row, it is typically safe to install a car seat in the third row.
However, you should check the car seat is properly secured and that the seat belts are working properly before putting your child in the seat.
You also want to make sure that the third row has enough space to accommodate the car seat.
Where do you put a newborn baby in a car?
The best place for a newborn baby in a car is in the backseat in a rear-facing car seat. This is because it is the safest position for a newborn.
If your vehicle does not have a backseat, you can place the car seat in the front seat, but you should turn off the airbag.
The Bottom Line:
Most car seats are designed for use in the back seat. The middle of the back seat is the safest spot in most vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In this guide, we have explained how to position a car seat in the safest way possible. If you have any questions, please ask a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST).
We have also explained what are the 15 common mistakes parents make when positioning their car seats. Please read through this guide and make sure you are not making any of these mistakes.
I hope you find this guide helpful and please share it with your friends and family for their benefit as well.