How old must a child be to sit in the front seat?

By Spencer Leech, 16 May 2016 Car Advice

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How old must a child be to sit in the front seat?

Kids are always begging to sit in the front seat but how old do they need to be before they can win a round of shotgun?

Kids these days are always wanting to grow up too fast: they want to wear make-up, dress like the ‘older kids’, or sit in the front car seat.

The endless begging for ‘shotgun’ is enough to cause any parent to throw in the towel just for one peaceful car-trip. But don’t let the little one suck you in: there are laws which prevent children from sitting in the front seat.

So next time your precious cargo begs you if they can ride up front, remind them of these Australian laws:

  • Regardless of where you are in Australia, children under the age of four must only travel in the back seat of a vehicle.
  • Kids aged between four and seven can sit in the front seat only if all of the back seats are occupied by other passengers under seven years old.
  • A child under seven sitting in the front must travel in a booster seat that doesn’t have a top tether strap as the front spot does not have the correct anchorage point/s. 
  • If the vehicle in question has only one row of seats – say, a cab-chassis ute or sports car, for example – children of any age can sit up front, as long as they are properly restrained.
  • Anyone over the age of seven can sit in the front seat of any car. However, research suggest that children 12 years and under are much safer travelling in the back seat.
  • A child must be 145cm or taller before they’re allowed to use an adult seatbelt.

Looking for more information? Now read our full guide to child car seats.