Solve Your Seating Dilemmas
Make sure you know the safest ways to seat everyone in these situations.
You have more than one child.
Place the child who needs the most protection -- based on age, size, and health -- in the center, explains Laura Jana, MD, a certified passenger-safety technician in Omaha. "But if a car seat can't be safely secured in the middle seat of your vehicle, no one should sit there."
The kids outnumber your back seats.
In 13 states, it's illegal to put a child in the front seat (see the list at iihs.org/laws/childrestraint.aspx). If you have absolutely no choice, slide the passenger seat as far from the airbag as possible and buckle the forward-facing child whose seat has the most upper-body restraint in front. This may not be the oldest child: "A 3-year-old in a harnessed car seat will be farther from the airbag -- and safer -- than a 6-year-old in a booster, which allows more upper-body movement," says Walker. You should never put a child in a rear-facing seat in the front because the seat can't withstand the impact of an airbag.
Your kids fight when they're next to each other.
Put them in the window seats. They'll be safer than if they distract you while you're driving.