Alaska Child Passenger Safety Coalition

Buckling Up Older Kids

Is your child ready for a seat belt?

One of the most common questions parents have is "When can my child ride in the car using just the adult seat belt?" Whether parents ask what is the law or what is safest for their child, our answer is always the same: "When the adult seat belt fits properly." That happens when you can answer YES to all five of these questions:
  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the shoulder and chest?
  4. Does the lap belt fit low and snugly across the hips - touching the tops of the thighs - not up over the abdomen?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, or if your child puts the shoulder portion of the seat belt under their arm or behind their back, your child needs a child restraint, such as a booster seat or high-weight harness seat, until the child can pass the 5-Step Test. Remember, use the 5-Step Test to check belt fit in every vehicle in which your child rides. Source: SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

When can my child ride in the front seat?

Alaska law does not prohibit or address the age at which the child can ride in the front. The use of the back seat for children under age 13 is a recommendation from NHTSA, the American Academy of pediatrics, and the automobile manufacturers.