Texas Safety Laws for Child Passengers
All parents want to keep their children safe, but many cut corners on safety when it comes to driving with the kids as passengers. Risky behaviors can be as simple as allowing a too-young child to sit in a front seat, or caving to a rebellious young teen’s refusal to wear a seatbelt while sitting in the back. Such parental negligence can be very frustrating to law enforcement: some years ago, a Los Angeles County school district stationed sheriff’s deputies at an elementary school during drop-off and pickup times. As parents swooped in and out, the traffic officers stopped and warned them when drivers disobeyed safety rules, such as where to cross, where to turn, no parking at red curbs, and obeying posted signs.
Texas has strict safety laws governing child passengers. Rules vary depending on a child’s age, weight, and height. The laws are clear, simple, and easy to obey:
- No infants in the front seat, ever.
- Any child less than a year old and/or under 35 pounds in weight must be placed in a rear-facing child seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- A one-year-old child must ride in a forward-facing safety seat attached in the back seat while under the age of five, and less than 36” in height. Afterwards, children may graduate to a booster seat in the rear, typically until they are 4 ‘9” and weigh 80-100 pounds.
- Children must use booster seats until they can sit against the back of the seat of the car with their knees bending over the edge of the seat. Seatbelts should stay low on their hips, and must lie over the collarbone and shoulder, not the neck or face.
- Once children reach the age of 13, they can ride in the front passenger seat. All children under the age of 17 must wear a seat belt at all times, regardless of where they are sitting.
Failure to comply can result in a traffic violation, plus being required to take a Texas seat belt course to dismiss any points from your license. Better to say: full compliance with these child passenger safety rules will ensure your children’s safety when they are riding as precious passengers in your vehicle.
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