Anderson Injury Lawyers | October 4, 2022 | Car Accidents
Child car seats are a legal requirement for Texas motorists who drive with infants and young children. Because children are particularly vulnerable to injury, child seats are a proven safety element that reduces the risk of fatality during car crashes and collisions.
If you drive with children in Texas, you should know about the laws that regulate child safety in passenger vehicles. Failure to comply with car seat and seat belt laws puts children at risk and can result in expensive fees.
By following Texas safety guidelines, you ensure that your child remains safe and protected in the event of a car accident.
Car Seat Safety Statistics
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), proper use of car seats can reduce fatalities by up to 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
In 2021, 78 children under the age of 8 were killed in traffic accidents throughout Texas. Of those deaths, 22 children were unrestrained. Sadly, the NHTSA reports that 46% of car seats are misused due to improper installation or non-compliance with child size and weight.
Texas Car Seat Regulations
Under Texas traffic laws, all drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt whenever a vehicle is in motion. A child seat must be properly fitted whenever children are too small to use a normal seat belt.
In Texas, all children under the age of eight are required by law to be strapped into a car seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Additionally, no children under the age of 13 should ride in the front seat of a car.
Failure to follow child safety laws when driving a vehicle can result in fines and additional legal and financial consequences.
Progression of Child Seats in Texas
Depending on the size and age of the child, there are different types of seats to consider.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recommends a four-phase approach to child seats that begins in infancy and concludes with everyday seat belt use, usually around age 12.
Rear-Facing Infant Seats
“Rear-facing” seats are appropriate for newborn babies until the end of infancy. Infant seats are secured in the back seat of a car with a fixed base from which the seat itself can be removed and serve as a carrier.
These carriers are typically handheld and strap into a stroller. The most critical element in infant seats is that they never face forward because when airbags deploy, they can severely injure a small child.
Infant seat manufacturers will have unique safety ratings and elements; you must reference these to match your child’s size and weight.
Forward Facing Seats
Once a child outgrows their infant seat, the Texas DPS recommends that parents upgrade to “forward-facing” seats. These resemble small chairs and come equipped with a harness to keep the child safely secured. As with all child seats, these may only be installed in the rear of your vehicle.
The CDC recommends using forward-facing style seats until a child reaches age five or whenever they are ready to use a booster.
Booster seats are used whenever a child is nearing the size to use a seat belt but may be too small for the straps and buckles to fit adequately.
Booster seats allow children to sit higher so that a car’s seat belt sits comfortably across their lap and chest. Generally, these are used until a child reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches, usually between eight and 12 years of age.
Once a car’s seat belt sits comfortably across a child, you can remove the booster seat and strap in your child normally without additional safety equipment.
Following Texas Car and Booster Seat Laws Will Help Keep Your Child Safe in a Collision
You should follow all Texas booster and car seat regulations to help protect your child if you’re involved in a car accident. If you have questions or were involved in a wreck that injured you and/or your child, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance.