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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Importance of Car Seat Laws - Texas Takes Strong Measures to Protect Children

Statistics regularly show that young children are the most vulnerable when it comes to being injured in car accidents. A study conducted by Go Safety Lab (a non-profit focused on advancing transportation infrastructure) showed that Texas is the most dangerous state for children riding in cars.

This is a very worrying revelation for the millions of parents who put their children's lives at risk on Texas highways each day. As one of the most vulnerable age groups in society, the safety of young children is something the state of Texas takes very seriously.

That is why Texas lawmakers came together and decided to implement strict car seat laws that work hand-in-glove with the current Texas seat belt law that applies to adults. These safety measures and laws in Texas are meant to help keep children safe whenever they are riding in cars.

However, not many people are familiar with these important Texas car seat laws. Car seats, for example, have an expiration date, which is something that would surprise a lot of parents.

Being found in contravention of Texas car seat laws is a very serious offense. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is here to assist car accident victims regarding anything involving Texas laws on child car seats. The best car accident lawyer in Houston can be reached at +1 713-999-4150 for a free consultation.

Types Of Seats And Safety Devices For Kids

Types Of Seats And Safety Devices For Kids

Usually, depending on the child's age, height, and weight, there are different types of car seats that parents are supposed to use. This is meant to comply with Texas car seat law and to increase the safety of their children.

The following are some of the most common types of car seats for children:

  • Rear-facing Car Seat

Rear-facing seats are one of the most widely recognized types of car seats that many people use for their infants and very young children. As the name implies, a rear-facing car seat is designed to face backward when it is installed correctly.

This orientation was deliberately designed to provide support for the fragile neck, head, and spine of babies. Rear-facing car seats should be used until the child reaches the height and weight limits stated by the car seat manufacturer.

  • Forward-facing Car Seats

Another common type of child safety seat is the forward-facing car seat. when children outgrow their rear-facing car seat, they are usually moved on to the forward-facing safety seat. By this time, their heads, necks, and spines should be strong enough to allow them to sit facing forward. The forward-facing car seat also has height and weight limits that need to be considered.

  • All-in-one Car Seats

Instead of buying a rear-facing car seat and then having to replace it with a forward-facing seat when the child grows, parents can simply purchase an all-in-one car seat safety device. This type of seat can be installed in a variety of orientations depending on the child's age and size. As such, parents will be able to use it for a much longer period.

  • Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats are similar to all-in-one seats in many ways. They can also be used in the forward or rear-facing orientation to provide a longer period of safe use.

  • Booster Seats

Once children reach four years of age and weigh at least 40 pounds, they are no longer considered babies and can start using booster seats. These seats are meant to elevate their height so that the car's seat belts will fit snugly across the child's chest.

If the booster seat has a high back, it will also provide support for the child's neck and head in the event of a car accident. Usually, a child will continue to use a booster seat until they can be properly secured in the car's seat belts without any height elevation.

  • Combination Seats

A combination seat will use a booster seat and forward-facing harness straps at the same time, helping the child to transition from the harness to a proper car seat belt as they grow. When used correctly, combination seats help secure the child in the safest position possible, with the hip harness lying low on the hips and the shoulder belt underneath the chest and shoulder.

Texas Laws Regarding Child Safety Car Seats

Many drivers are more familiar with the Texas laws that require them to wear seat belts while driving than they are with the equally important car seat laws. However, for Texas parents, knowing the ins and outs of Texas car seat laws is a must. As such, it is important to understand the following regulations that apply to children of different ages in Texas:

Children Younger Than Two Years Old

When it comes to car seat laws, Texas authorities require every child under the age of two years old to be secured in a rear-facing seat when traveling anywhere in the state.

This applies to all children in this age group unless they are taller than the height limit of such a rear-facing child seat. In such cases, when the child outgrows their rear-facing seat, the parents are allowed to upgrade to the next type of car seat.

Two to Four Years Old

From the time the child reaches the age of two, or they surpass the weight and height limits of the rear-facing seat, they can be moved to a forward-facing seat. The child will normally use this type of car seat until their fourth birthday.

However, the common recommendation is that children will continue to use forward-facing seats as long as they are still within the height and weight limits stated by the car seat's manufacturer, even if they are older than four years of age.

The same also applies if the child does not meet the minimum height and weight limits of the front-facing car seat even after reaching the age of two. In such a case, they need to carry on using the rear-facing seat.

Four to Eight Years Old

Reaching the age of four years old usually means the child can be upgraded from a car seat to a booster seat. This will be their regular seat until they reach the age of eight years old or they have outgrown all types of booster seats.

Usually, children under the age of eight years old will continue to use the booster seat until they are at least four feet and nine inches tall. At this height, they will be able to correctly use a regular seat belt without a booster seat to elevate their height.

What Does the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Say Regarding Car Seats?

When buying a car seat, it is important to know what the law says so that it can guide you to getting the correct type for your child.

The NHTSA has designed four phases on which parents can base their car seat choices, and these are:

Phase 1 - Rear-facing Car Seats

This is meant for infants and babies up to two years old unless they are taller than the height limits of the car seat.

Phase 2 - Forward-facing Car Seat

A front-facing seat will be meant for children under the age of eight years old but older than two years old. It is usually used in conjunction with a harness.

Phase 3 - Booster Seat

From the age of eight to 12, children will move on to Phase 3, which involves the use of a booster seat to elevate their height until they can safely use a seat belt.

Phase 4 - Adult Seat Belt

In Phase 4, children have reached the minimum height allowed for using a regular car seat belt, and they will no longer need a booster seat.

Penalties for Violation of Texas Car Seat Laws

If a driver is pulled over and is found to have been traveling with a child who is not properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat according to their age, height, and weight, they will face penalties.

Usually, the penalty according to Texas car seat laws is a fine of between $25 and $250, depending on the seriousness of the circumstances. Repeat offenders will face more severe penalties, such as mandatory court appearances or the suspension of their driver's license. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also advise on an average physical therapy car accident settlement Texas.

Exceptions to Rules on Child Safety Seats

Exceptions to Rules on Child Safety Seats

There are a few exceptions to these Texas car seat laws that may apply in certain circumstances, such as:

  • The child has a medical condition that requires them to be positioned or supervised in the front seat for their own safety.

  • Vehicles that lack a back seat or are unsuitable for the installation of a child safety seat.

  • The rear seat is overcrowded due to the number of children meaning the parents have no choice but to place the child in the front seat.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Is Ready to Help

The interpretation and implementation of Texas car seat laws regarding seat belt positioning, booster seat requirements, and car seat orientation can be confusing for most parents. However, not understanding the law will not be considered an excuse for drivers found guilty of breaking the car seat laws in Texas.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is here to help all Houston, TX, residents with all things related to car seat laws. Its panel of experienced attorneys is available right now for a free consultation.


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