Child Safety and Seating Position in a Vehicle
Do you have a truck, particularly a single cab truck, and have been thinking about how you can ride with your infant in your truck?
Or just maybe it is your second vehicle, and you intend to travel in the truck and want to take your child along?
Well, there are laws and safety practices that must be followed if you must transport your child in a single cab truck, and ultimately, the type of car seat also matters.
Not to worry, this detailed guide answers numerous questions, including if you can have a car seat in a single cab truck. You will get answers in every detail to satisfy your curiosity and be ready to ride in confidence.
This article covers every aspect of the types of car seats, car seat laws in the US States that have specific laws on seating positions, installation guides for car seats in trucks, and some frequently asked questions.
As this guide will be pretty detailed, you can use the table of content to navigate to the section you may be interested in the most, or you can read through.
Can You Have A Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck? – Ultimate Guide For Car Seat In Truck
By general national best safety practice recommendations, car seats are to be installed in the back seat and in the recommended seating position depending on the age and weight of the child.
Most states in the US require that car seats be installed in the back seat.
But a single cab truck does not have a back seat.
However, some state laws provide an exception on types of vehicle seats available and recommend that car seats be installed according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
Some of the most important factors to note in installing a car seat irrespective of vehicle (particularly a single cab truck) are:
- Condition of the airbag.
- Seat size and space.
- Vehicle model/make year.
- Installation features in the vehicle.
- Vehicle owner manual instructions
- State car seat laws
Once a good number of these factors can be fulfilled, you can have a car seat in a single cab truck.
Now we shall delve into details based on each of the factors above.
1. Condition of the Airbag
The primary need for a car seat in the first place is to protect your child in the event of an accident.
This is the exact purpose of an airbag – to protect the front seat passengers from impact.
However, there is a big difference here. A car seat accommodates a child while the vehicle seat accommodates an adult.
At a very early age, a child is still developing and doesn’t have their skeletal system fully developed to protect them against pressure as powerful as that from a deployed airbag.
That was about children generally. It becomes critical when an infant is involved and is in a rear-facing infant seat.
The pressure from a deployed car seat, up to 160 mph, will hit the back of the rear-facing seat where your baby’s head is positioned. This can lead to a fatal injury and, in most cases, death.
As such, you want to be aware of the airbag in the front seat.
The exception to this condition is using the on-off switch for the airbag.
If you can get the passenger seat airbag deactivated, you are one step toward having a car seat in your single cab truck.
Ensure the truck has a switch or key to turn off the airbag manually. If the truck’s airbag has a sensor, it is not recommended. Do not rely on the sensor.
A study carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the year 2000 across four states in the US revealed that 48% of airbags were left on when only child passengers 1-12 years were in the front seat and 62% when a child and an adult were in the front seat. That is a staggering figure as such children could have been hurt if there were accidents.
So, the real question here is, will you remember to make use of the On-Off switch when you have your child in the front seat?
2. Seat Size and Space
A single cab truck obviously has no back seat; however, an extended cab truck has a half-size rear door with a small space on the back row with two or more small seats, while a crew truck has a full-size rear door and broader space. But the crew truck is not the focus here.
According to car seat manufacturers’ manual, a vehicle seat must accommodate at least 85% of the car seat base area when installing. According to this publication of seat dimensions for three brands of truck seats from ResearchGate, they averaged 46.2cm, 48.3cm, and 52.4cm.
An average car seat base is around 57.4cm (22.6 in.) in length. 85% of this will be 48.79cm (19.2 in.).
That means your single cab truck seat should measure around 48cm in width to fulfill this condition.
Please refer to your car seat manual for the accurate dimension of the car seat and check with your vehicle seat.
3. Vehicle Model and Make Year
The next factor you’ll want to consider is the model of your single cab truck.
This is also an essential factor when you install a forward-facing car seat.
A forward-facing car seat is to be secured with the top tether anchor.
Some older models of single cab trucks like the ’00 Nissan Frontier, 1998 Ford Ranger, ’97 chevy s10, and ’99 F-150 don’t come factory-equipped with the top tether anchors. You have to buy the tether anchors and fix them yourself. The passenger seatbelt may be twisted as it gets twisted from time to time.
This is a factor you want to consider greatly.
4. Installation Features in the Truck
This factor is similar to the previous one we just looked at.
You want to be sure your truck is equipped with the necessary features to install your car seat.
These features include:
- Top tether anchor,
- Combination of lap and shoulder belt,
- Lower anchor (LATCH)
If a vehicle has no top tether anchor and you are unable to fix one, you may want to consider riding your child in a rear-facing if they are not much beyond the limit for rear-facing. You should note that many car seat models allow an extended weight and height limit like the convertible car seats. Do check with your car seat manual to confirm yours.
Ford Models before 2003 were not having the LATCH system equipped in them, but all 2003 F-150s now have the LATCH system.
So, it is important to check with your model/make year for these features.
5. Vehicle Owner Manual Instructions
Ultimately, your vehicle owner manual is your best go-to resource for accurate information on using a car seat in a single cab truck.
This is because single cab truck models/make years are different and come with specific instructions for that model.
In the vehicle owner manual, you’ll find every section about car seat use in the cab truck.
Sections to look out for – LATCH, seat belt, airbag, tether anchor, car seat type, and seat location.
Note once again, you should not install some car seat types with only a lap belt. Therefore, if the middle seat is equipped with only a lap belt, that location will not be recommended.
Some single cab truck models and car seat guide
2007 f150 single cab –
“If two adults and a child occupy a Regular Cab, properly restrain the child in the center front unless doing so would interfere with driving the vehicle. This arrangement provides lap and shoulder belt protection for all occupants, and airbag protection for the adults. A child or infant properly restrained in the center front seat should not incur risk of serious injury from the airbags.”
You can find the model manual for a truck on the manufacturer’s website.
5. State Car Seat Laws
At the end of the day, if your vehicle’s owner manual says it is safe to install a car seat in a single cab truck, the state you reside in will be the ultimate factor if it’ll be legal and that also depends on the type of car seat.
Many State car laws provide exceptions for a car seat to be installed in the front seat if the vehicle has no back seat. At the same time, some other states are very clear that a rear-facing car seat must be installed in the back seat. Others may allow the installation anywhere else. Others again will require that all car seat types be installed in the back seat without providing an ‘exception.’
In a state with a law that requires all car seat types to be installed in the back seat without the clause or exception, it’ll not be a recommended idea to have a carseat in a single cab truck in such state, but you can call the authorities to check with them.
We shall look at some State car seat laws and what they say about seating position.
Very quickly, the state of Colorado makes a bold statement on “no exemptions.” The car seat law in Colorado requires that infants under one year and weighing under 20 lbs. ride in the back seat; there are no exemptions. However, it becomes legal to ride in the front seat of a single cab pickup truck when they are above one year and weigh more than 20 lbs.
Single Cab Truck Car State Car Seat Laws
Now we’ll go into details about other state laws.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Alabama
Alabama child restraints law requires that infants ride in infant-only seats or convertible seats in rear-facing until the child is at least one year old or 20 lbs. The law doesn’t specify on seating position. However, the law mentions a “pickup truck” as an example of a “motor vehicle.” It is safe to say that it is not illegal in Alabama to put a carseat in a single cab truck. Ensure you follow the state car seat law to the latter – rear-facing till at least one year old or 20lbs.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck California
California car seat laws require that children under eight years be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system installed in the back seat.
However, there is an exemption. A child under eight years may be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system in the front seat if:
- There is no rear seat.
- The rear seats are side-facing seats.
- The car seat cannot be installed securely in the back seat.
- All rear seats are already occupied by children under seven years.
The law further says a child must not be transported in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat that has an active front passenger airbag.
Therefore, it is legal to have a car seat in a single cab truck in California.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Florida
The Florida car seat laws do not mention seating positions where a car seat should be installed, nor do they specify car seat types.
This will infer it is not illegal to have your car seat in a truck. Ensure to follow the guidelines also.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Georgia
Georgia car seat laws provide an exception for a vehicle with no back seat to have a child restrained in the front seat. Therefore, it is legal to put a car seat in a single cab in Georgia.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Louisiana
Louisiana car seat laws mention that “a child under six years or weighs less than 60 lbs. shall ride in the back seat if the back seats are available.”
This infers if the back seats are not available like in a single cab truck, such child can ride in an available seat.
This does not rule out following the recommended guidelines of deactivating the airbag and checking with your vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Michigan
Michigan car seat laws require that a child be secured in a child restraint system appropriate for them, that meets federal standards, and that it be installed in the rear seat if the vehicle is equipped with a back seat. Another exception is if other children occupy all the available rear seats, such child may be secured in a restraint system in the front seat only if the front passenger airbag is deactivated.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Missouri
Missouri car seat laws exempt vehicles designed with only the front seat. Such a vehicle will be a single cab truck. Therefore, a car seat can be legally installed in a single cab truck. Another part of the law must also be followed: a child under four years to be secured in a car seat appropriate for their age.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck NY
New York car seat laws on the front seat position state that children under four years riding in the front seat must be restrained in an appropriate car seat that is properly secured to the vehicle. Children under four years but weighing above 40 lbs. are also to be secured in the same way. Children between 4-8 years are to be secured in a car seat or by the seat belt. In contrast, children 8-16 years are to be restrained by a seat belt.
Therefore, it is legal to have a car seat in a single cab truck. You should also follow these specific NY front seat laws on age and weight.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Oklahoma
The Oklahoma car seat laws do not mention the front seat position for a child restraint system but emphasize the back seat and have this clause; “back seat shall include all seats located behind the front seat of a vehicle.”
With this, it is difficult to tell the position of Oklahoma for vehicles with no back seat.
You may have to call the authorities in your state to verify with them to clear all doubts.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck South Carolina
South Carolina car seat laws require that toddlers under two years be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Children at least two years who have outgrown the rear-facing car seat be secured in a forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat. And, children at least four years ride in a belt-positioning booster seat in the back seat. A safety seat belt may restrain children at least eight years if the child is big enough for the belt to fit.
However, there is an exception in the law.
If the vehicle lacks a rear passenger seat or if all the back seat positions are occupied by other children under eight years, a child under eight years may be transported in the front seat in an appropriate child seat for their age or a belt-positioning booster seat.
Therefore, installing a car seat in a truck in South Carolina is legal.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Tennessee
The Tennessee State car seat laws say, children under one year or weighing less than 20 lbs. must be secured in a rear-facing restraint system in the rear seat, if available. The same applies to the other car seat types.
This means, for a single cab truck that does not have a rear seat, you can have a car seat installed in it.
However, you must follow the other guidelines recommended above.
Car Seat in Single Cab Truck Texas
According to Texas car seat laws, children under eight years and less than 4 feet 9 inches must be secured in a child passenger restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
The law does not say beyond that. The only exemption is when all child safety seats in all seating positions are occupied.
It is safe to say that installing a car seat in a single cab truck in Texas is legal. However, you have to fulfill the other conditions to ensure your child’s safety.
Can You Put an Infant Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck?
Yes, you can put an infant car seat in a single cab truck on the following conditions: the vehicle has a key or switch to turn off the airbag, don’t rely on a sensor; there is a top tether anchor for a forward-facing car seat; your State car seat laws make an exception for vehicles with no rear seat and doesn’t emphasis on rear-facing car seat to be installed only in the back seat.
Can You Put a Rear-Facing Car Seat in A Single Cab Truck?
You can put a rear-facing car seat in a single cab truck if your state car seat law makes an exception for vehicles with no rear seat to ride in the front seat and if the law does not specify an age limit to ride in the back seat. The front passenger airbag must also be deactivated.
Can You Put a Front-Facing Car Seat In A Single Cab Truck?
You can put a front-facing car seat in a single cab truck if the cab truck has a top tether anchor. The top tether anchor can be found behind the passenger seat, behind the vehicle headrest (webbing loops), or behind the seat loops. Check with your vehicle owner’s manual for the exact location for your vehicle.
Final Wrap Up
While a lop of people get a little bit confused about what is allowed and not about having a car seat in a single cab truck, an important aspect is what are those conditions to fulfill to really install a car seat in a truck.
I hope you have been able to learn a thing or two from this post.
Cheers to great Parenting!