Question: I own a Chevy Colorado, a small pickup with an extended cab. Behind the front seats are two forward-facing seats, each having a three-point seat belt — lap and shoulder.
My grandsons like riding there. They’re the size that they need a booster seat. Behind their heads is a leather padded area.
They appear to be completely safe with the seat belt and the padding, but a friend of my son’s got a ticket for having his kid in a seat similar to this because cop said there was no headrest — no curved headrest.
I’d like to know: Is it legal to carry my grandsons back there? They really love being there. — Anonymous
Answer: The danger of carrying children in the rear seats of compact, extended-cab pickup trucks received a lot of attention following a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2002.
The researchers found that children in the rear seats of these little trucks were more than 4 times as likely to be injured as children in the rear seats of other vehicles.
However, the study included compact trucks with fold-down seats in the rear and those with lap-only safety belts, neither of which describes what you have in your Colorado. Safety seats are not allowed on side-facing jump seats.
“I’m not sure why his friend got a ticket, but we are designed to meet legal requirements for child seats in the rear of the extended cab Colorado,” said Otie McKinley, a spokesman for Chevrolet’s truck division.
McKinley cautioned that you should check specific instructions in your truck’s owner’s manual, which show proper use of child restraints. A lot depends on the size of the kids and the type of seat you’re using.
It doesn’t sound as if a curved headrest is required in your situation, but to prevent whiplash, it’s important that the tops of the children’s ears are not higher than the padded seat back.
Many extended cab pickup trucks have back seats that are too small for child safety seats, including boosters, and that could be a problem for you, depending on what booster seats you have and the year of your truck.
Car seat manufacturers generally require that at least 80 percent of the car seat’s base touches the vehicle seat. If you can see any of the car seat base hanging over the seat of your truck, it's probably not the right size.