Rear-facing car seats: Is the driver side or passenger side safer?

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For parents, their number one priority is always the safety of their baby. Apart from daily activities connected with bringing them up, such as feeding or getting them off, your role is also to provide them with a safe place to sit while driving. And here starts the battle between supporters of different approaches. Some people say that you should place your child only on a front seat, whereas others claim that it’s safer to put your kid in the back. Another debatable question is the type of seats that should be used. Because of these contrary opinions, parents make many mistakes while installing car seats, which you can read about on the Parent Center Network website. To avoid them, remember that in most cases, especially if you have a newborn baby, the best car seats are rear-facing, which protect your child against a spine fracture in the case of a car accident. Now, take a closer look at different positions of your child’s seat, and check if it can be properly fitted to that position in your vehicle.

Front Passenger Seat

Although many parents would like to keep their baby close at hand, a front passenger seat isn’t the best choice. You can’t drive and simultaneously take care of your kid. It’s even more dangerous if you put a rear-facing baby seat in the front, and you have an active passenger airbag. During the accident, it may hit the car seat and push your baby forward. However, if your car doesn’t have airbags, or they can be deactivated or switched off, then you can use the rear-facing seat in the front. But still, it would be more secure to place your baby in the back with another grown-up who would look after them during the ride.

If you really need to install a forward-facing baby seat in the front, then place it as far from the dashboard as possible. And always make sure the seat belt securely holds your baby seat. It’s one of the most essential security measures.

Rear Seat Behind the Driver

Now, let’s take a look at a rear seat behind the driver. Is it safe for your child? If you drive alone, probably not, because you aren’t able to see your kid. What’s more, this seat is located on the side of the road, and during the accident, your baby will be more vulnerable to the force of impact. While getting your child out of the car, it’s also not so comfortable unless you typically park your vehicle next to the pavement, and you don’t want to ram passers-by.

Rear Seat Behind the Front Passenger

The situation is entirely different when you use a rear seat behind the front passenger. 41% of all parents choose this seat subconsciously since children are in plain sight, which allows adults to easily reach them during the ride and give them a snack or drink. Nevertheless, such behaviour shouldn’t be practised while driving a car. The driver’s primary purpose is to focus on the road, and not do a few things at the same time. Otherwise, they can cause a car accident.

However, in this position, kids are more secured during a crash than when they sit behind the driver. Also, it’s easier to get the child in and out of the car from that side. But is it the safest place to sit your baby?

Middle Rear Seat

It turns out that not. The safest place in the car for your child is in the centre of the back seat. One study proves that the middle rear seat is 43% safer for newborns to 3-year-old kids than sitting on the side of the back. As surprising as it is, that’s a fact. Why? Because it’s located the furthest away from the sides of the vehicle. And they are usually first dented under the influence of the side impact.

Of course, not all cars and baby seats are adapted to such a solution. So, before installing your car seat, you could familiarise yourself with an instruction manual of both your vehicle and the seat. Remember that a middle rear seat usually requires a three-point seat belt. If your car has lap and diagonal seat belts only on the sides, then you have no other choice but put your baby there.

However, if you choose an Isofix or an i-size child seat, then you can use the centre rear seat only if it has Isofix points. It’s good to keep that in mind during the shopping.

While purchasing a car seat for your baby, always try to protect them as much as you can. Therefore, choose the middle rear position in the back, and ideally rear-facing car seats for your youngest bundle of joy.


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