Parents have responsibilities to ensure safety during driving, whether your child is an infant or a nine-year-old. Usually, children from ages four to eight are more likely to suffer from injuries in a car accident.
People can prevent these injuries and deaths if both children and adults use seat belts correctly. Texas’s vehicle and seat belt safety laws of Texas are quite strict, especially when it comes to age limits of sitting in the front or back seat.
Generally, children may sit in the front seat of a vehicle at 13 years of age in Texas. However, any child under the age of 17 must wear a seat belt at all times. This law is for both if they are sitting in the front seat or back seat.
Guidelines on Child Safety in a Vehicle
The information distributed by Texas laws about children sitting in a vehicle may be confusing to some. These laws don’t directly specify where and in which seat of a car a child must sit.
Texas law for child passengers has different stages. Children younger than eight years old, or shorter than 4’ 9’’, must sit in a car seat.
In addition, the state-imposed legal requirements of sitting in a vehicle under the guidelines of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Texas Department of State Health Services.
These guidelines have been written based on a child’s age to determine the safety measures parents should take when driving a car.
Newborn to Two Years Old
Car seat manufacturers allow a minimum weight and height for riding in a car. Therefore, all infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats until they meet the manufacturer’s minimum criteria.
The law requires using a rear-facing seat for a child under two years of age. Rear-facing seats can be used for a longer duration than two years if the child’s weight is less than average.
Two to Four Years Old
The child can move to a front-facing seat when the car manufacturer’s recommended weight and height criteria are met. So, an average child of age more than two years can sit in a front-facing seat until their weight exceeds 65 pounds.
It is always important to check the car seat manufacturer’s instructions for child seats.
Four to Eight Years Old
Booster seats are necessary and recommended when your child reaches four years of age. These seats can be used until the maximum limit of these seats is reached.
The manufacturer also specifies this weight limit. Booster seats are an ideal choice if a child exceeds the height of four feet.
Eight to Thirteen Years Old
The booster seat can support the weight and height of a child but only up to a certain age and weight. Once the child is above those recommended requirements, the car’s original seats may be used.
According to Texas passenger safety laws, an individual can use an adult seat between eight and twelve years of age. The minimum height criterion for these seats is four feet, nine inches.
To simplify, you can use a booster seat until the child can securely use an adult seat belt during a ride. This applies to both shoulder and lap belts in a comfortable and secured position.
Thirteen Years Old and Up
At this age, the weight and height requirements have surpassed the minimum criteria of using a booster seat. Now the child may sit in the front seat by considering every safety rule.
This includes wearing a seat belt and following the seat safety guidelines by the vehicle manufacturer.
Significance of Child Safety System
A child safety system, also known as an infant restraint system, is a child career seat designed according to the federal safety standards. These are manufactured under the supervision of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA supports the law by offering free car seat checks to the community to help make sure the child is in the correct car seat. Vehicle accident injuries and choking hazards are the main reasons Texas stresses the child safety system.
Although this system is used routinely, improper use is a significant downside of it. It is of utmost importance and highly quintessential to use this system the right way. This includes the recommended requirements of an individual’s height, weight, and age.
The use of common adult seat belts on a kid is of no use, and it might increase the risk of injury if you have an accident. These belts are too small for a child and have a very improper fit because of their adult-oriented design.
Types of Safety Devices and Seats
You must ensure child car seats are properly installed and compatible with your vehicle. From tightening the straps to securing proper tension, everything must be checked.
There must be no loose ends, dangling straps, and improperly placed pieces. Texas law allows for the use of certain child car seats that meet their standards.
These seats are a must if you’re planning to have an infant in the car. Rear-facing seats are ideal for children up to two years old.
There are two options available; one is infant-only, and the other is convertible. These seats come with a 40-pound weight limit and are the safest way to ride for an infant or a toddler.
Front Facing Seats
These seats come in handy when the child has outgrown the weight limit of a rear-facing seat.
To accommodate growing kids, manufacturers also add the options of turn-around and adjustable pieces. You can adjust these based on the child’s height and level of comfort.
These seats are designed for use until the child is about eight years of age or a height of four feet, nine inches. The extraordinary feature of these seats is to provide extra support for kids on an adult seat.
Booster seats work with the car’s installed seat belts. The car’s stock safety belts can be used to hold this seat in place to prevent slipping and accidental injury.
A child above eight years of age can sit in an adult seat with a supportive booster seat. But a child must remain in the adult back seat until 13 years of age.
Concerning the safety information of adult seats, it can be found on the visor of your vehicle. The safety provided by an adult seat and the use of safety belts is inarguable for all passengers.
Fine in Case of Violation
The observance and obeying of the traffic laws are mandatory for everyone. Therefore, a minor violation can result in a considerable fine. Like any other traffic violation, NHTSA in Texas also imposed a penalty with a child safety violation.
Following this law, any child below seven years of age and shorter than 57 inches is not allowed to wear adult seat belts. A fine of a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $250 is enforced in case of violation.
Vehicle crashes present significant injuries and risks to any individual who doesn’t follow the recommended guidelines.
While Texas driving laws aren’t specific about when a child can sit in the front seat, it’s best to go by car seat manufacturer guidelines. The recommended advice is to keep the child under 13 years of age in the back seat with a child safety system if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where to get the car seat help and guidelines in Texas?
You can get information about the rules and regulations of using the appropriate safety systems from the following addresses:
2. Can I leave my child alone and unattended in the vehicle in Texas?
According to Texas Traffic safety and NHTSA, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than five minutes. Intentionally leaving a child younger than seven years old may result in a Class-C misdemeanor.
If the unattended child experiences a serious injury, the violation is treated as a felony with two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
3. Should I replace the car seat after an accident?
It is highly advisable to replace or repair the car seat after an accident. This ensures the protection and safety of you and your loved ones.
4. Can I use booster seats in passenger vans or buses?
Booster seats are designed to work with adult lap/shoulder belts for correct use. Booster seats can only be used in seating positions that already have seat belts installed.
5. Where can I get assistance if I can’t afford a car seat?
You can contact the Department of State Health Services Texas, Safe Riders Program via 1-800-252-8255.