ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Bigger sibs, fighting and space considerations: the influences on parents' seating position choices for their children

Lennon, Alexia (Peer reviewed)

Child Restraints


Despite the fact that safety organisations recommend that children travel in the rear seat, many children under 12 years in Australia occupy the front seats of cars when they travel. While there has been some research investigating situational factors that influence where children sit, little has been reported on the psychosocial influences on parents? decisions about children?s seating positions. This paper reports the results of an intercept interview conducted with parent-drivers (n = 468) of children to explore these factors. In addition, parents? views on the appropriate age for children to use adult seat belts were sought. It appears that most parents were aware that the front seat is more risky yet more than half reported that they had allowed a child under 12 to occupy the front car seat at some time. Several factors influencing this decision were identified. The strongest of these was a pragmatic one: insufficient room in the rear seat. Parents also indicated that children fighting influenced them to allow a child into the front seat and that already having older children permitted to sit there influenced decisions for younger children. These findings suggest that behavioural interventions may be effective in changing parents? seating position choices. Interventions could focus on parental risk perception as well as capitalising on the existing rules parents use to prevent children from sitting in the front seat. Strategies to help parents manage children?s behaviour in the car could also prove useful. Lastly, well designed legislation could be used to encourage both child-specific restraints and rear seating.