There are child passenger restraint laws in Massachusetts however we could not find a law that has requirements regarding when you may allow a child to ride in the front seat, just recommendations. Various divisions of the Massachusetts local and state government give information on the best practices to take regarding placement of your child in a vehicle though.
In July 2008 Senate Bill 2018, dubbed the Booster Seat Bill, went into effect. This law enhances the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Law and now requires in MA that all children riding in passenger motor vehicles must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or over 57" tall.
You can read General laws of Massachusetts (MGL) Section 7AA of Chapter 90 for the actual language of the child passenger restraint law. However there is no mention of when a child may ride in the front seat.
Website users have told us that Massachusetts law requires 12 and under to be seated in the back if there is a backseat space available.
What the Massachusetts Public Safety site, MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and various other local government sites state is that children 12 and younger should never sit in the front seat. The safest seating position is in the back seat, away from air bags if possible. Children 13 years of age or older can ride in the front seat, but should position their seat as far back as possible from the air bag.
Other practices the EEC and other MA entities say to take when driving with children as passengers include:
- Children should be in rear-facing infant seats from birth to 1 year AND until they are more than 20 pounds.
- Children 1 to 4 years and 20 to 40 pounds should ride in a forward-facing child seat.
- Children who have outgrown a child safety seat, typically when they are over 40 pounds or 5 years of age, should transition to a booster seat which assists in the proper fit of a safety belt.
- All children must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall.
- Always wear your lap and shoulder belt when driving - it protects you in case of a crash and it sets a good example for children.
So while there does not appear to be any written law in MA surrounding when a child can sit in the front seat it is a suggestion state (and federally) that children 12 years old and under should sit in the rear seat whenever possible to reduce their risk of death and serious injury. At age 13 they say a child can ride in the front of your car or jeep but position the seat as far back as possible from the air bag. You can contact the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to verify this information about when children can sit in the front seat of a motor vehicle and to see if there are any new child passenger safety laws in the works.
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