Texas is very clear about their car seat safety laws for 2020, which makes it very easy for parents and guardians to ensure that their child is safe when traveling on the road in this state. Knowing what to expect when visiting Texas is key to keeping a child safe and avoiding fines.
The Texas Car Seat laws mandates that all safety and booster seats must be installed and used only in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This means that parents and guardians must follow the instructions regarding the recommended weight, height, and age criteria on the seat that they are going to use with their child.
When a Child Is Not Required to Use a Car Seat in Texas
There are two times that a child is not required to use a car seat in the state of Texas. By understanding these two times, parents and guardians can make sure that they are using car seats correctly.
Any child that is at least eight years old doesn’t have to use a car seat in Texas.
Additionally, children do not need to be in a car seat if they are at least 4’9” tall. While in other states the child must also be a minimum age, that is not the case in Texas. Children who are under eight years old, but a minimum of 4’9”, do not have to use a car seat.
Criteria for Rear Facing Car Seats
Both rear facing convertible safety seats and rear facing car seats must be kept turned around until the child is up to 35 pounds. These seats can be used with an infant and must be secured correctly so that the child will be safe in the seat until they reach the weight limit.
There are some seats that have a different weight limit, so parents and guardians need to follow the state weight limit on the seat they are going to use, even if it is different than 35 pounds.
Criteria for Forward Facing Car Seats
When children get too big for a rear facing car seat, then they will need to be placed in a forward facing car seat. These seats are generally used for children who are at least four years old. The seat must be installed in the back of the vehicle so that the child will be as safe as possible.
No children who are under one year old or who weigh less than 22 pounds should ever be placed in a forward facing car seat, as this will place them at risk of severe injury or death in the event of an accident.
Criteria for Booster Seats
Booster seats can be used by children who are at least four years old and a minimum of 40 pounds or more. When children reach this age and weight limit, then they can use the shoulder and lap belt intended for adults.
Any child who is riding in a booster seat must use both a shoulder and a lap belt at all times to ensure their safety.
What to Know About Seat Belts
As children grow, they will age out of their car seats. Children who are approximately 4’9” and weigh 100 pounds may use the vehicle’s shoulder and lap belt without a booster seat, but only if the belt fits properly. The belt must fit with the lap portion snug and low on the hips of the child.
The shoulder belt must cross directly in the center of the chest and the shoulder. If the belt doesn’t fit the child correctly and rest on their body in these locations, then it will not be able to protect them in an accident.
Violating the Texas Car Seat Law can be expensive and dangerous. The first violation results in a $25 fine. Any subsequent violations result in fines of $250. Parents who want to avoid these fines and who are dedicated to keeping their children safe need to make sure to follow the car seat laws when in Texas. Keeping an eye on a child’s age, weight, and height is key to ensuring that they are in the correct car seat and that they will be safe when on the road.