Texas Car Seat Laws

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death of children and infants every year. One of the best things that parents and guardians can do to protect their children is to obey Texas’s car seat laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats saved at least 325 children under the age of 5 years old in a single year. Following Texas’s car seat laws can keep your child out of harm’s way and prevent legal ramifications.

When Is a Car Seat Required in Texas?

Texas law makes safety restraint systems mandatory for all drivers, passengers and children in a moving motor vehicle. If a child passenger is under the age of eight years old, a car seat or booster seat must be used. The type of seat required depends on the child:

  • A newborn or infant under the age of two must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat at all times.
  • When an infant is at least two years old and has reached the height and weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer, the child can switch to a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • A child should stay in a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible, until reaching the maximum height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer.
  • When a child outgrows the manufacturer’s car seat limits and is at least four years old, he or she can graduate to a booster seat. This is a belt-positioning seat to allow a seat belt to fit properly.
  • Once a child is between the ages of 8 and 12 and taller than 4’9,” he or she can stop using a booster seat and use a standard seat belt.

The law also requires children under the age of 13 to ride in the back seat, as the front passenger seat can pose fatal injury risks to children in accidents. Failing to buckle a child into the proper car seat or seat belt can result in a fine of $250 per violation.

Car Seat Safety Tips for Parents

Use the right seat for your child’s height, weight and age. The NHTSA reports that as much as 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are used incorrectly. Check the manufacturer’s instructions, not just the law in Texas, as they are typically more detailed. Do not stop using a car seat or booster seat prematurely.

  • Buy new. Do not purchase a used car seat, as it may be outdated or too old to properly protect your child. It could also contain dangerous product defects. If you cannot afford to purchase a new car seat on your own, Texas has programs in place to help parents with this expense.
  • Get your seat installed or checked by a professional. Car seats can come with complicated instructions and can be difficult to install in your vehicle. Making a mistake could be extremely harmful to your child. Texas offers free in-person car seat checkup events throughout the year.
  • Check your child’s car seat and seat belt regularly. Look for cracked plastic, worn-down equipment, frayed safety belts or other issues that could mean it is time to replace the car seat.
  • Always buckle your child up, even on short drives. The possibility of getting into a car accident always exists, even if you are close to home or only driving a short distance. You can’t control the actions of other drivers, but you can control your child’s safety.

Get Help From a Compassionate Lawyer in Texas

Even if you obey every state and federal car seat law, it doesn’t guarantee that your child will be safe and uninjured if you get into a car accident. If your child has suffered a serious injury in a recent automobile accident, contact the Austin car accident lawyers of Loewy Law Firm for assistance. We care about you and your family and can help you hold the at-fault driver responsible for your child’s injuries. Call (512) 280-0800 today.