Texas Car Seat Laws
As part of the car seat laws in Texas, all child passengers must sit in an approved safety restraint whenever they travel by passenger vehicle. In most cases, children must use a child car seat until they are old or tall enough to use a booster seat or an adult safety belt.
In most cases, rear-facing seats are best for infants and young children, while forward-facing seats are ideal for children who are at least two years of age. Boosters are best for children between four and eight years of age.
Under the state’s car and booster seat laws, all passengers who do not use a child safety restraint need to wear a safety belt whenever they ride in a motor vehicle. The penalty fee for riding without a safety belt is the same as the fine for driving with an unrestrained child.
Tickets and fines are given to the licensed driver of the vehicle regardless if the minor is his or her the offspring or not. To learn more about child car seat safety in Texas, review the sections below.
What are the car seat laws in Texas?
Under the car and booster seat guidelines in Texas, adult motorists must secure their child passengers in an approved safety seat whenever they transport minors in a motor vehicle. Like distracted driving laws, these car seat regulations are designed to keep the road safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.
As part of these child car seat laws, the child or infant passenger restraint system must comply with federal standards under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These rules apply to all children who are younger than eight years of age or shorter than four feet nine inches tall. Once children reach four feet nine inches tall, they may use an adult safety belt when traveling in a motor vehicle.
Moreover, all child passengers who are younger than 13 years of age must sit in the back of a motor vehicle, regardless of whether they use a seat belt or safety restraint system.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Texas
If motorists violate these car seat requirements in TX, then they will be convicted of a misdemeanor and will need to pay a traffic ticket fine of between $25 and $250. However, if all available car seats are occupied by young children, motorists are exempt from paying a traffic ticket penalty fee.
Types of Car Seats
The safest car seats that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recommends using includes a rear- or front-facing restraint system followed by a booster seat. However, car and booster seat age, height and weight requirements vary by product type and manufacturer. To improve car seat safety in Texas, the TxDOT recommends using a:
- Rear-facing child restraint system if passengers are younger than two years of age or until they exceed the height and weight recommendations for their specific seat model. Various types of rear-facing restraints include baby, infant, convertible and all-in-one seats.
- Forward facing car seat if child passengers are two years of age or Different types of forward-facing seats include all-in-one, combination and convertible models.
- Booster seat if children are between four and eight years of age or until they reach four feet nine inches tall. Different types of boosters include high-back and backless models. While high-back models are best for vehicles that do not feature passenger headrests, backless boosters are ideal for automobiles with headrests.
According to the NHTSA, the best car seats for infants weighing between four and 35 pounds include the Baby Jogger Infant Seat, the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite and the GB Idan.
For babies weighing between four and 30 pounds, the safest seats include the Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat G3, 4moms Infant Seat and the Maxi-Cosi Prezi. (As for forward-facing restraints for children weighing between 20 and 65 pounds, the best seats include the Graco 4Ever and the Britax Advocate ClickTight or Britax Boulevard ClickTight.
Top-rated child booster seat restraints include the Baby Trend PROtect Yumi 2-in-1, the Cybex Solution X-Fix and the Harmony Big Boost Deluxe.
The PROtect Yumi 2-in-1 is ideal for children weighing between 30 and 100 pounds, while the Cybex Solution X-Fix seats passengers weighing between 33 and 100 lbs. The Harmony Big Boost Deluxe seats children weighing between 30 and 110 lbs.
To ensure child car seat safety for years to come, motorists may register their device with the manufacturer to receive important notices about the product and future safety recall information. This is different from registering your car in Texas, as you must go through the manufacturer of the device rather than one of the local DPS offices.
Car Seat Installation Information
Car seat installations generally vary by vehicle, child restraint type and product manufacturer. For this reason, motorists must obtain the most current installation information by referring to their vehicle’s ownership manual and the manufacturer’s instructions that came with their car seat. During the installation process, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:
- The chest clip must be level with the infant’s armpits
- All harness straps for rear- or front-facing seats must remain snug against the child’s body
- When installing a forward-facing seat, use the vehicle’s lower anchors or seat belt to secure the restraint system into place
- When using a booster seat, secure the shoulder belt across the child’s chest and the lap belt against his or her thighs and hips
- Install rear-facing seats at a slight recline to keep the infant’s airway open
- After installing a convertible car seat, keep the restraint system in the rear-facing position for as long as possible before reversing it
To obtain car seat installation assistance, motorists may bring their vehicle to an NHTSA-certified inspection station. To find a nearby technician, drivers may visit the NHTSA’s website to enter their address and search for local assistance.