I think it is important to have the baby in the back seat for a number of reasons.
1) If your car is equiped with a passenger side air bag and it ever deploys, this can cause serious injury or even death to an infant. It pushes the back of the baby's seat into the back of the passenger seat, causing spinal injury.
2) The front seat, especially the passenger side, is prone to being hit by oncoming cars, causing the baby to be at risk of death if he/she is in the front seat.
3) A baby can be a serious distraction to the driver, causing mom or dad to constantly be watching the baby rather than the traffic around them.
4) Space in the front seat is very limited and a bulky car seat can cause problems. It is difficult to properly adjust the belts, to secure the baby's seat to the contour of the passenger seat and the windows can cause the sun to burn the baby. (You can't use baby sunvisors in the front seat for your own safety while driving and visual accuity)
If you are concerned about the baby choking, I suggest you have an older child, or an adult ride with you. Babies make a lot of unusual noises, which can be alarming to parents, especially if the baby is the first child. Keep the car seat properly elevated and be ready to pull off the road if anything should happen.
You can have the positioning of the baby's seat checked by any pediatric hospital, fire department or police station. They are trained to assist parents with proper safety of their children.
Also, for the fist 3-6 months, keep your trips alone with the baby to very short distances. Eventually you will get to know your baby's habits, (are they prone to reflux, do they spit up 20 mins after feeding, do they stick their fingers too far down their throats, etc.) and you can plan your outings around them.
A new baby is a joy and a handful. Don't be afraid to visit friends or family, but be aware of your own fears and try to adjust to to them. It is always best to have someone with you who can easily and quickly get to the baby if anything should occure.
Thanks for writing.