In most cases the safest place to put a car seat in your vehicle will be in the back seats, with the rear middle being the safest statistically.
However, depending on your type of vehicle you may only have one row of seats.
So what can you do if you have a single cab truck or bench seat truck and would like to transport your baby or child?
The good news is that from a legal perspective, you can put a car seat in a single cab truck, provided you follow some essential safety guidelines.
These include turning off the air bags, using a top tether depending on the type of car safety seat you’re using, and ensuring 85% of your child’s seat is supported by the vehicle’s bench.
But from a safety perspective there are some other things you should also consider to ensure you are not putting your child at risk.
Let’s take a look in more detail.
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Is It Legal To Have A Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck?
If you are thinking of putting a car seat in the front of your truck, then you will of course want to know whether this is legal or not.
The good news is that yes, in the USA it is legal to transport your child in a single cab truck, provided you follow the following regulations:
- Only use the front seat if there is no alternative (which means no rear option).
- Use the appropriate model for your baby’s height and weight.
- If using a forward-facing seat, make sure it’s attached using a top tether.
- At least 85% of your child’s car seat must be supported by the passenger seat / bench of the truck.
- The passenger airbag(s) must be turned off.
Can You Put A Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck?
Again, from a legal perspective the answer is yes.
If there are no back seats, then you can put a car seat in a single cab truck or bench seat truck provided you follow the safety principles above.
Let’s take a look at these and some other important safety guidelines in more detail:
Airbags Turned Off
If your child’s car seat is placed in the front of your truck, then it is critical that you turn the passenger airbag off because deployment in the event of an accident could seriously injure or kill your child.
Correct Type Of Car Seat
According to the AAP, infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer.
This is normally around the age of two.
Baby Seat In Middle
Are you wondering where to put a car seat in a single cab truck?
Just like a car with back seats, the safest place to put a car seat is in the middle.
Because the middle seat is the furthest away from the impact in all types of car crashes.
85% Seat Coverage
By law, you must ensure that 85% of your child’s car safety seat is supported by the width of the passenger seat cushion.
Refer To Owner’s Manual
Your owner’s manual should provide important information about safe seat usage, installation, how to use a tether and how to turn off the airbags (assuming they can be turned off in the first place).
In some cases the manual might also specifically state you should not put a car seat in your truck.
If you cannot turn off the passenger air bags, or there’s no tether latch, then you should not put a car seat in your truck.
Unfortunately some trucks are simply not safe to transport children, so if this applies to your truck it’s better to seek alternative transport for you and your child.
Use A Seat Within Its Expiration Date
Did you know that car seats have expiration dates?
While it’s technically not illegal to use an expired car seat, the AAP recommends you never use a safety car seat that:
- Is too old
- Has any visible cracks on it.
- Does not include a label with the model number and date of manufacture.
- Does not come with instructions.
- Is missing any parts.
- Was recalled.
- Was involved in a moderate or severe crash, which according to the NHTSA means the vehicle could not be driven away from the crash, the door closest to the car safety seat was damaged, someone was injured, the airbags went off and there is visible damage to the car safety seat.
Can A Child Ride In The Front Seat Of A Truck?
The law in the USA states that children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat of a vehicle.
However, depending on your vehicle type, this is not always possible.
A child can therefore legally ride in the front seat of a truck if it’s not possible to sit in the back, but the airbag in the front passenger side must be turned off.
In addition, if your child is in a forward-facing car seat then the top tether should be fastened, and the car seat should cover at least 85% of the vehicle’s bench (which means no more than 15% of the child seat should hang off the car’s seat or bench).