The Texas car seat laws are in place for all parents and caregivers who transport children. These laws must be followed to help keep your child safe, even in a collision.
Texas car seat law requires children under the age of one to use rear-facing car seats. Once the child meets the weight and height requirements, they may use a forward-facing car seat. A child who reaches the height of 4; 9” or the age of eight may sit in the car with an adult safety belt.
The Texas car seat laws are the minimum recommendations for children to stay safe in the vehicle. Many authorities recommend children stay rear-facing, and in a forward-facing, car seat for as long as possible. It is also recommended for parents to follow the AAP recommendations as well.
All passengers in the vehicle, whether child or adult, must have some kind of safety restraint on. This is meant to help keep everyone in the vehicle safe and secure. In this guide, we will look into Texas’s rear-facing car seat laws, forward-facing, seat belt laws, and the penalties not to follow them.
- Texas Car Seat Laws Follow Different Format
- Four Phases of the Texas Car Seat Laws
- Phase 1: Rear-Facing Seats
- Phase 2: Forward-Facing Seats
- Phase 3: Booster Seats
- Phase 4: Adult Safety Belt
- Texas Click It or Ticket Rules
- Texas Car Seat Laws for Single Cab Trucks
- New Texas Car Seat Law in 2020
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines
- Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Texas
Texas Car Seat Laws Follow Different Format
Texas car seat laws follow a different format than what is found in many other states. This allows them to go in more depth about the safety features for the children. And the phases make it easier for parents to remember.
For example, Texas State Law requires all children under the age of 8 and smaller than 4’ 9” to sit in a car seat. The car seat needs to be installed properly based on the instructions from the manufacturer.
The law does allow a child older than eight to sit without a car seat, even if they are not 4; 9”. However, safety officials recommend that parents wait until their children reach both requirements to have extra precautions.
Children who are under the age of eight and taller than 4’ 9” may sit without a seat as well. Parents may want to choose a good car seat or booster seat to add an additional layer of protection for their children.
Four Phases of the Texas Car Seat Laws
In 2016, the Texas Department of Public Safety introduced a new recommendation list. This list is known as the Child Passenger Safety National Best Practice Recommendation list. It comes with four phases.
Keep in mind that the Texas law is slightly different and does not require all of the things on this list. However, many state safety officers will use this list during traffic stops to check on the child and ensure they are safe.
Authorities also urge all parents to seriously consider these recommendations and follow them. These four phases are meant to prevent spinal cord injuries and death in your children. The four phases that all parents and caregivers must follow include:
Phase 1: Rear-Facing Seats
Texas car seat law states that children who are under the age of 1 must be placed in a rear-facing car seat. This is similar to what is seen in most other states as well. However, it is also recommended that you use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Follow the height and weight limit recommendations on the seat as well.
Many authorities recommend keeping the child in the rear-facing seat until the child reaches age 2. This helps keep the child safer for longer. Parents and caregivers must properly install the car seat as well. Follow the owner’s manual with the car seat and place the seat in the back of the vehicle.
When adding the safety restraints and installing the seat, always double-check before placing the child inside. If the car seat is properly in place, it should not move more than an inch in any direction.
Phase 2: Forward-Facing Seats
Texas car seat law allows children older than one to face forward. Once your child has officially outgrown the rear-facing seat, it is time to move to the forward-facing car seat. Keep your child in this forward-facing car seat for as long as possible. Look at the maximum weight and height limit of the harness to find out when this is.
Children will usually be able to stay in this seat up to the age of four. Make sure to properly install this seat in the back of the vehicle, using the top tether if possible.
Regardless of Texas car seat law, never turn the child forward-facing before they meet all of the age, weight, and height requirements. You can look at the requirements provided by the car seat manufacturer.
Phase 3: Booster Seats
Texas car seat law allows children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat to move to a booster seat. The child should remain in the back seat. While in the booster seat, the child can use an adult lap and shoulder belt. This should continue until the adult safety belt will fit them properly.
To use the booster seat, the child must have a lap and shoulder belt. Just a shoulder belt is not part of this law. Parents can choose between a booster seat with a back and one that stands on its own. This decision is based on the age, height, and maturity of the child.
If you are uncertain about the height, weight, and age requirements of these booster seats, look at the owner’s manual. This will help give you some more guidance.
Phase 4: Adult Safety Belt
Once your child has surpassed all the recommendations for the booster seat, it is time to move to an adult lap and shoulder belt. Parents should only do this if the belt fits properly on the child. Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions on this.
There are a few parts to consider making sure the seat belt fits properly. It must fit against the upper thighs of the child, and not across their stomach. The shoulder belt should be snug around the chest and the shoulders. It should not be across the neck or even the face. Check the placement of the safety belt each time you get into the car with your child.
Even when your child moves to the adult safety belt, they should still sit in the back. This is the safest spot for your child, no matter their age. These four phases are in place to better protect your child as much as possible. Children are better protected the longer you keep them in each phase.
Authorities in Texas recommend that you keep the child in each seat until they reach the maximum age, weight, and height limits. Then move the child to the next seat. Besides, all children who are younger than 13 years old should be in the back seat. Always make sure the child is in the proper child safety seat or buckled up properly.
Texas Click It or Ticket Rules
Texas car seat law is also part of the Click It or Ticket rules. All passengers in the car must be properly secure in the car. For children, it is important to follow all the four phases listed above. This is the safest way to travel with your children.
For anyone age eight and older, adult safety restraints are required. This is required whether the passenger sits in the front seat or the back seat. Unbelted backseat passengers must buckle up to prevent them from being tossed around the vehicle in a crash. Buckling up can also make them 54% more likely to survive a crash.
No matter the age of the passenger, if anyone in the car is not in a car seat or buckled up, they will get a ticket. This includes children and adults in the state of Texas.
Texas Car Seat Laws for Single Cab Trucks
Texas car seat law states children under the age of 13 years old should wear the proper restraints and sit in the back seat. This provides them with the best safety and protection in case of a collision.
When it comes to single cab trucks, there are no options for sitting in the back seat. Children must still follow all other Texas car seat laws. Look at the four phases described above to see where your child fits into the car seat law.
Make sure that any car seat is kept away from an active airbag. If these deploy, it is possible to cause severe damage to the young child. Leave the car seat in the middle position if possible.
New Texas Car Seat Law in 2020
A new Texas car seat law has been put in place to help protect children from heatstroke death. In Texas, many child deaths are related to vehicular heat strokes.
This is a tragic issue for many families, and to help counteract this, HB2574 was passed. This is a new law that Texas nurses need to go over all the dangers of leaving children alone in a vehicle. New parents must complete this training before leaving the hospital with their children.
This is in addition to other car seat training that parents must complete at the hospital. Parents will learn how to safely use and install their car seats and can ask any questions. This helps keep children safe early on.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines
The Texas car seat laws are different from the recommendations given by the AAP. These guidelines were released in November 2018 and do not change the Texas statue.
However, many of the recommendations of the AAP meet or surpass the Texas car seat laws. Parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to look over these guidelines and decide if they are right for them.
Some of the AAP guidelines for car seats include:
- Children should stay rear-facing until they are 2 years old or reach the height and weight limits of the car seat.
- Children older than 2, or those who have outgrown the rear-facing seat, can move to a forward-facing seat. This should be used as long as possible. Some seats allow the child to stay in this safety seat until the child is 65 pounds or more.
- Kids can then move to a booster seat with a belt. They should continue to use these booster seats until they are eight years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
- Many children can remain in the booster seat for longer if necessary.
- All children under the age of 14 should stay in the back seat. They must use the proper restraint to keep them safe.
Remember that these are the recommendations from the AAP, and not part of the Texas car seat laws. The AAP guidelines add more protection to the child compared to the Texas laws. Following the AAP guidelines will help parents and caregivers stay within the Texas car seat laws too.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Texas
Texas car seat law requires all parents and caregivers to transport young children to keep them properly restrained. Failure to do so will result in fines and penalties. Texas has harsher fines and penalties compared to many other states. For example, if a motorist violates these car seat requirements, they will be connected to a misdemeanor.
There will also be a traffic ticket. The fine is between $25 and $250 depending on the severity of the issue. There is one exception to this though. If all of the available car seats are occupied by young children, the motorist will receive an exemption from paying the fee on the traffic ticket.
The Texas car seat laws and recommendations are put in place to keep your child safe. While every parent may try to drive safely, it is hard to account for how other drivers will behave on the road.
Following these recommendations will help keep your child safe no matter what road you decide to take. Parents may choose to prolong some of these recommendations, such as keeping their child rear-facing for longer. The more parents follow the Texas car seat laws, the safer their children will be, even in the case of an accident.