Texas takes child safety seriously, especially when children are on the road. Texas families with children must familiarize themselves with the state’s car seat laws not only to ensure they aren’t in violation and at risk of a serious citation but also to give their children the best possible protection during a crash. Ask an Austin accident lawyer for more information today.
Texas Has Seat Belt Laws for All Ages
Texas law requires all drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts in moving motor vehicles. To fit properly and offer the best protection, the lap belt should be across the hips and not the abdomen. The shoulder strap should pass across the chest and not against the neck. Children are safest in the back seat of vehicles and may only safely ride with a seatbelt when it fits as described when the child sits fully back on the seat with their knees at the edge of the seat and their feet reaching the floor.
Children must always ride in the backseat of the vehicle until they reach the age of 13.
Car Seat Laws for Children in Texas
Texas requires infants and young children to ride in age and size-appropriate car seats or boosters at all times. The guidelines are as follows:
- All babies under a year old and/or under 35 pounds should ride in rear-facing car seats with five-point harness systems. The car seat should be properly installed in the back seat of the vehicle. Children should remain in a rear-facing position for as long as possible while within the weight and height limits of their rear-facing car seat
- Children may switch to a size and weight-appropriate forward-facing car seat once they reach one year old or outgrow the size and weight limit of their rear-facing car seat. Forward-facing car seats should always be properly installed in the backseat of the vehicle Installing an infant or child car seat in the front passenger seat places the child at risk of serious injury or death from the airbag in an accident
- Children should remain in forward-facing car seats with a five-point harness system until they reach four years old or weigh at least 40 pounds
- Once children are five years old and/or are at least 36 inches tall, they may graduate to a child booster seat
- Children should remain in booster seats until they are at least 4 foot nine inches tall and weigh 80-100 pounds. Typically this is around age eight or when a child can safely wear a seatbelt correctly positioned while seated against the back of the seat cushion with their knees naturally bending over the seat edge and their feet flat on the floor
Child booster seats may have backrests or be backless. A booster seat works with the vehicle’s seatbelt and lifts the child to the correct height for correct seatbelt positioning. If a child isn’t mature enough to remain sitting up correctly with a seatbelt, they should remain in a booster until they are ready.
Car Seat Installations Checks in Texas
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, as many as 46% of child car seats and boosters are either incorrectly used or incorrectly installed inside the vehicle. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services offers car seat installation check stations and car seat checking events so parents can ensure their child’s seat is correctly installed. At these events, Certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians also offer advice to parents on proper fit and harness positioning. Failure to properly secure a child in an age and size-appropriate car seat or booster may result in fines of up to $250.