Car Seat Laws in Texas
While traveling with children in Texas it’s important to have them buckled in for their safety. Failure to have a child buckled into a safety seat could result in a traffic violation, points on your license, or the need to take a Texas seat belt course to have the points dismissed. Texas Department of Public Safety outlines the rules in their resource for Child Passenger Safety information.
The last thing you would want to do is put your child in danger. You can keep your kids safe from some of the dangers of a car crash if you follow proper child car seat instructions and have the appropriate gear for them. Online review and rating guides help some parents make the best decision for their child’s safety and budget. Consumer Reports, an independent non-profit, tests car seats based on crash report, ease of use, and how they fit into vehicles in their car seat buying guide.
There’s some gear that’s legally required for keeping children in tow. Very small children should only ever ride in the backseat, in a rear facing child seat.
When a child has reached a year old, they can graduate to a forward-facing safety seat in the rear of the vehicle.
Texas Seat Belt Law: Where should the kids ride?
- Teenagers and adults may ride in the front seat with a seat belt on.
- Children may safely ride in the back seat without a booster if their height is above 4 feet 9 inches.
- Children should never ride in the front seat.
Texas Seat Belt Tickets
Injury in case of a car accident is undoubtedly the biggest cost of not wearing a seat belt. But there are some rules on the books that allow Texas peace officers to enforce use of seat belts in the front seat and for children.
- Adults in the front seat can receive up to a $50 fine for not wearing a safety restraint.
- A driver can face up to a $200 fine for children who are not properly restrained.
- Children under 8 must be in an appropriate booster seat or car seat.
- Children riding in any seat must be restrained by a seat belt.
Recommended child safety seats (also known as booster seats):
- It’s required that infants ride in the back in a rear-facing seat.
- Kids under 2 years of age, or between 20 and 40 pounds should be in rear facing seats
- As a child grows they should graduate to a forward facing seat, typically at 2 years of age.
- Kids from 2 -4 years should ride in forward-facing car seats until they reach the upper height and weight limits of the seat.
- Kids from 4 -7 years should be in a high-back booster seat.
- An 8- to 12-year-old less than 4 feet 9 inches can be in a high back booster or low-back booster until they reach the upper height and weight limits of the seat. The low-back booster may be used with the car’s adjustable headrest.
It’s true that some children may legally ride in the car without a booster seat. Legally, a child may sit without a booster seat after their eighth birthday. It’s a law that went into effect in September 2009. However it’s recommended that a child remain in booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches.
Some of this information, such as that child passenger safety seats are required for all children under the age of 8 may not be entirely obvious or widely known. If you want to know more about what’s legal and safe in Texas, visit this resource provided by TxDOT.
Child Seat Law Texas: School Bus Bill Moves on in Lege
Seat belt laws have made recent news in the Texas lege. In mid May, nearing the end of the Texas legislative session the Texas House backed legislation that would require three-point seat belts on new school across the state. Senate Bill 693 has been tentatively backed by the Texas House. It would only impact new buses purchased by schools.
This bill follows similar legislation that was passed in 2007. Then the law was called Ashley and Alicia’s Law, which remembers two teens killed en route to a soccer playoff. Even with good intentions, the law did little to prevent deaths like Ashley and Alicia’s. The legislation left the responsibility to schools to apply for state money that was earmarked for the effort. A Houston Public Media report revealed that virtually no school districts applied and students still ride in buses without seat belts.
As the school year closed for summer 2017, 1.1 million children still ride without an ability to buckle up on the way to class.
Personal Injury and Texas Seat Belt Laws
Can using a seatbelt at the time of the accident affect your personal injury case? If you were injured in a crash, you may want to consider filing a claim and hiring a local personal injury lawyer. Compensation from the insurance company may help you pay medical bills and get your life back on track after the crash.
If it’s found that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt during a crash it could greatly affect your personal injury claim. Because seat belts have been shown through research and statistics to effectively reduce the number and severity of injuries, a person who chooses not to wear seat belts may be considered negligent. If you chose not to wear a seatbelt at the time of the crash, and you need to file a claim for injuries, the amount you could receive may be diminished under comparative negligence.
An insurance company will use this information to reduce your claims. If you want to understand more about comparative and contributory negligence in Texas, visit this page.