Children below the age of 13 are mandated to use car seats before maturing to use the adult seat belt. Texas car seat laws cover all the rules and in-car behavior that should be followed while a child is in the vehicle.
|Texas car seat laws||Age limit|
|Rear-facing||Under 1 year|
|Forward-facing||Above 1 year|
|Booster seats||Above 4 years|
|Adult seat belt||Above 13 years|
Car Seat Law
Texas car seat laws are binding on parents and children alike. The crux of the law mandates that seat belts be used all the time while inside a vehicle.
The adult in the vehicle is responsible for the minor and should ensure the correct use of seat belts and restraint systems.
As a driver, it is also your responsibility to ensure that everyone in the car follows the state and federal road safety laws or be ready to pay fines, face tougher penalties like community service, or prison time. Normally, fines cost between $25 to $250 depending on the gravity of the offense.
In some severe cases, penalties include fines and prison time. To avoid such, drivers and adult passengers must ensure that the laws are followed all the time during their travels. \
If you’re new to Texas, ensure to read this article to the last to keep abreast with all the Texas road car seat laws.
Rear-facing car seat laws
The Texas department of public security mandate that children below the age of 1 must use the rear-facing position.
This is safer in case of a collision since the force is evenly spread across the back of the seat. In this case, the child’s head is also protected from involuntary motion, thereby, preventing neck and head injuries.
This safety law will keep you from visiting the emergency unit all the time. Check the car seat to ensure it is equipped with safety features.
For example, there are car seats with impact-resistant features to keep your baby’s head from bouncing off the chassis of your vehicle.
The padded headrest is also important to cushion your baby’s head. Lastly, ensure the height of the seat is higher than the baby.
Forward-facing seat laws
Once the baby is above 1 year old, Texas seat laws allow parents to use the front-facing car seat position. While it is not mandatory. Switching to a forward-facing seat position provides more leg space for the growing child.
The rear-facing might be more secure, but its limited leg space might limit your child’s freedom of body expressions. However, ensure that your child has met the requirements to move from rear-facing to forward-facing to avoid fines and penalties. ‘
This can be tricky because other states set it at 2 years old, so it is advisable to read every state car seat law as you’re reading on Texas car seat law cause it might come in handy when needed.
Booster seat laws
Booster seats help children transition from the rear/forward seat positions to the vehicle car seat. Children who weigh above 80 pounds or have reached the age of four will use booster seats since the car seat is only suitable for children above 12.
Having a child below 12 or below the specified weight on the car seat without a booster will attract penalty and fines. The booster car seat comes without a harness. However, it lifts the child so the shoulder and lap belts fit properly.
Without a booster, the lap belt will rest on the pelvic, causing discomfort. The different types of booster car seats are high back and backless.
The high back boosters provide the much-needed support for the neck, back, and child’s head. This is the perfect booster type for vehicles without headrests.
On the other hand, backless booster seats are the best fit for vehicles with a headrest. Booster car seats are secured to the car seat using the seat belt or tether.
Make sure the seat is tightly secured yet comfortable for your child. For proper installation, check the manufacturer’s manual.
Adult Seat belt
After a child must have advanced past the booster stage, parents can use adult seat belts to secure them. Most vehicles have the same seat belt specifics, so this shouldn’t be an issue regardless of your vehicle type.
The adult seat belt is used on a child as it is used on an adult. Run it across the chest and car seat before hooking it to the buckle.
Ensure the belt isn’t resting on the stomach, rather on the child’s thigh. If it is resting on the stomach, then the child should stick to booster, notwithstanding his or her age. Placing a seat belt on a young child’s stomach can cause abdominal injuries and terrible discomfort.
The most important factor to consider when moving your child from booster to adult seat belt is weight. You need to make sure the child is ready for the seat belt.
Laws about riding in the front seat
Texas does not expressly state the law surrounding children riding in the front seat. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children below the age of 13 should travel in the back seat due to several reasons.
First, it protects their fragile bodies from head-on impacts. However, that’s not all, the force of an airbag can cause damage to a child’s body, as well as broken windshields and dashboards.
The back seat keeps children farthest from damage. Use any of the above-mentioned positions and safety features to protect your child at the back depending on your child’s age.
Is it illegal to leave children in the front seat?
It is legal to ride with a child below 13 in your front seat. While Texas has no law regarding this, the other car seat laws are so interwoven that it is impossible to have children below a certain age ride in the front seat.
For example, a toddler can only ride using the rear-facing seat, while children who are not of the specified weight have to use booster seats.
States with a clear-cut legal stance against children riding in the front of a car seat include Washington D.C, Maine, and Delaware to mention a few.
While the Texas government is yet to make policy changes, vehicles and car seat products come with a warning against placing children in the front seat.
Nevertheless, there a several parents out there who enjoy riding with their children in the front seat. If that’s you, then stop risking your child’s life.
Are there drivers above Texas car seat laws
While private drivers are held to a higher standard, the laws guiding taxis can be considered loose. Taxes do not mandate car seat laws but then, as a responsible parent, always have one with you. You’ll find affordable options online with easy mobility.
If you can’t take the time to install the seat, then use your adult seat belt and hold the child tightly so they are not affected by bumps and collisions.
What’s the mandate around car seat replacement after accidents
The Texas law doesn’t expressly state how car seat replacement should be done or if it’s mandated after a crash. But experts advise replacing the seat if you’ve been involved in a crash.
While properly designed car seats have safety features to protect the child, a crash could render them useless after that incident.
For continuous and enhanced performance, and for your child’s safety, buy a replacement immediately. Some car seats are protected by warranty, so check if you qualify for extensive repairs or a replacement, depending on your needs.
Do federal safety car laws apply in Texas
State governments determine the mandate surrounding car seats, but they follow federal laws and regulations that are binding.
For example, the federal government is laden with approving car seats after the company must have tested the seat according to a set of laid down rules and yardsticks.
Every car seat in the country and imported ones must be certified by the federal government to be used in Texas.
Most states tend to trust the testing standards of the Federal government because of how much knowledge and resources are invested in the process. This testing phase has reduced the amount of low-quality car seats in Texas.
Is it legal to use my car seat on an Airplane?
FAA-approved car seats are legal to use on any US carrier airplane. Car seats are necessary for children below the age, weight, and height to use adult seat belts on a plane because they may rest on the wrong body part, thereby discomforting them and causing medical problems.
Before boarding the flight, ensure the car seat fits properly so your child is comfortable throughout the long ride. However, Texas doesn’t make it mandatory for parents to fly with car seats.
According to research, air travel is much safer than the road, so parents really have nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to have your FAA-approved car seat while you travel.
Commons mistakes to avoid with car seats
● Improper installation. This is caused by ignoring the regulations and installation guide provided by the Texas government and the car seat manufacturer. The installation is always easy, and your child’s safety is assured when you get it right.
● Using the wrong car seat for a child’s height, weight, age. Bookmark this article so you’re always refreshed with the laws.
● A loose or tight strap
Conclusively, by following the Texas car seat laws, you reduce the risk of life-threatening injuries from minor and severe collisions. Bookmark and share this article with other Texas parents to ensure child car safety.