Now where did I put my kids?

Aritcle By: Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada.  He was a judge on the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper since 2005.  Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at

There always seems to be a competition between my two sons with who get’s to ride “shotgun” when we’re going out somewhere. Keeping it fair is difficult as I sometimes forget who was last and who’s turn is next. It was so much easier when they were younger when they had to sit in the back seat. The only difficult part when they were younger might have been who had to sit in the middle and not near the window. Sound familiar?

The safest place for any child riding as a passenger is actually the middle of the back seat. This keeps them away from the sides of the vehicle where another vehicle could strike in a side-impact collision. Although with some vehicles coming out with rear/side airbags by each door, that could increase the safety factor while riding anywear in the vehicle. Pretty soon we’ll be driving in a cushion and won’t have to worry about severe injuries from a crash. Until then, it’s important to know where our kids should be sitting while riding in any vehicle.

I’ve witnessed adults holding a child while the vehicle is in motion. This is completely unacceptable! Human reaction is to put your arms out to brace yourself if you were suddenly moving forward. This would mean inertia was taking over, letting that child fly forward into the dashboard or windshield as the adult let go of them. I’ve also seen younger kids riding in the front seat, which can also be dangerous for them if the airbag deploys. Keep them in the back seat until they’re teens. It’s much safer for them and it’s the adult thing to do

Safety should always be a priority with parents and their kids. Infants should be in rear facing child seats as their neck and back muscles are quite weak at that age. They wouldn’t be able to withstand the force on their spinal cord from a sudden jolt from a crash. Keeping a child in a rear facing child seat to the maximum height and weight limit of the child seat is a smart thing to do. In Canada, you can even find rear facing seats available for kids up to 45 pounds or 20 kilograms, so that’s roughly around age four.

We may feel kids want to look out the windshield or see mom and dad, but that’s not always the case. As long as they have something to do while traveling, they’re pretty content with looking out the rear of the vehicle. If you want to see what they’re doing, install a mirror in the back so you can see their face and they can see you. Make it fun for them while they’re riding in the vehicle and they won’t ask to face forward. And besides, you don’t miss what you never had. If they never sat facing the front, they won’t know what they’re missing.