Texas laws regarding seat belt use are contained in Transportation Code Chapter 545. There are fines and penalties for failing to use seat belts and separate provisions dealing with the transportation of minors. Houston personal injury lawyers know that seat belts can make a big difference in some car crashes.
In Texas, Everyone Must be Belted
Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be belted. Adults and children, regardless of their position in the vehicle.
Penalties for wearing a seat belt under Section 545.413.
Riding in a car while it is being operated is an offense and not wearing your seat belt.
A fine can be not less than $25 or more than $250, but the real expense to people who fail to wear their seat belts is the cost of court and hassle factor.
For instance, Harris County lists their total window fine for seat belts – for adults at $ 125 and $185 if a minor is not secured.
As many drivers understand, wearing a seat belt is vital to ensuring safety while on the road. However, while this is generally common practice, individuals should also consider the law regarding seat belt usage. Houston has some dangerous roads, and being belted is vital.
Child Restraint Requirements in Texas
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as per the Transportation Code Chapter 545, the first thing to consider is child safety seat systems. According to the law, the driver must ensure that children younger than eight years of age, unless the child is taller than 4ft 9in, must be secured with a safety seat system.
A child safety seat system includes car seats, no matter the type, and also refers to the restraints designed to keep the child within that seat.
To this extent, a child passenger safety seat system is “an infant or child passenger restraint system that meets the federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as set by the National Highway Safety Administration.”
As one can imagine, seatbelts ensure that the probability of injury or wrongful death is significantly lessened in an unforeseen accident.
Drivers Must Ensure Children are Secured!
However, the violation would be considered a misdemeanor if a child is not properly secured in a safety seat.
Not only does this affect one’s driving record, but it is also punishable by a fine, not less than $25 and no more than $250.
Rules for Child Seats In Texas!
Car seat laws in Texas are in place to ensure the safety of children traveling in motor vehicles. The laws in Texas outline the type of car seat required based on the child’s age, weight, and height. Failing to comply with these laws can result in fines and penalties. Here is everything you need to know about car seat laws in Texas.
Types of Car Seats
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) outlines the following types of car seats required for children:
- Rear-facing car seat – Children under the age of two or those who have not yet reached the minimum weight and height requirements of the forward-facing car seat should be placed in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Forward-facing car seat– Children who have outgrown their rear-facing car seat should be placed in a forward-facing car seat.
- Booster seat -Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat should be placed in a booster seat until they are at least 4 foot 9 inches tall.
Seat belt- Children who have outgrown their booster seat should use a seat belt that fits properly.
Requirements by Age
The following are car seat requirements in Texas based on a child’s age:
- Infants and toddlers up to the age of two should be placed in a rear-facing seat.
- Children between the ages of two and four and between 30 and 40 pounds should be placed in a forward-facing seat with a harness.
- Children between the ages of four and eight and under 4 foot 9 inches tall should be placed in a booster seat.
- Children at least eight years old and have reached 4 foot 9 inches tall should use a seat belt that fits properly.
Why Older Children Should Learn to Wear Seatbelts Correctly
Older children should always wear seatbelts correctly for several important reasons. Firstly, although children aged 10 to 12 may technically meet the height and weight requirements to sit safely in a car’s passenger seats, the seatbelt may still rest uncomfortably on their bodies. This discomfort can lead children to adjust the seatbelt in unsafe positions, such as placing it across their stomachs or under their arms rather than properly across their shoulders. Such improper adjustments significantly increase the risk of severe injuries during an accident.
Furthermore, wearing a seatbelt correctly is crucial for older children because it provides the highest level of protection and safety in the event of a collision. Seatbelts are specifically designed to distribute the forces of a crash over the body’s strongest parts, such as the shoulders and hips, reducing the potential for serious injury. When worn incorrectly, however, seatbelts fail to provide this optimal protection, leaving children vulnerable to various harm.
In addition, wearing seatbelts correctly sets a positive example for younger children who may be observing their older siblings or peers. Younger children often look up to older children as role models. If they see older children wearing seatbelts properly, they are more likely to learn and adopt safe behaviors. By consistently demonstrating responsible seatbelt use, older children can help instill lifelong habits of buckling up that will contribute to their safety as well as the safety of others.
Overall, older children need to wear seatbelts correctly on every trip. Doing so minimizes the risk of serious injuries, reinforces the importance of proper seatbelt use for younger children, and ultimately promotes a culture of safety and responsible behavior on the road.
Seatbelts Reduce Injury Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 2.3 million adults were treated in emergency rooms because of car accidents in 2009. Estimated costs are over $70 billion annually for crash-related injuries and death.
Some not-so-surprising factors are that seatbelt use can reduce the severity of injuries and the likelihood of a fatality by over one-half. Many people do not wear seatbelts because they have airbags in their vehicles. Airbags are great extra protection but are not designed as a substitute for a safety belt.
The largest groups of people who do not wear seatbelts are those adults aged 18 to 34. Additionally, women are much more likely to wear seatbelts than men.
Texas has done an admirable job in both enforcing seat belt laws and educating the public, which is a major step in reducing unnecessary injuries from accidents.
The “click it or ticket” slogan has proven very effective in letting people know that not wearing a seatbelt is against the law and can result in a fine.
For more information about car seat laws in Texas, visit the Texas Department of Transportation website at https://www.txdot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-campaigns/child-passenger-safety.html.
You can also find information about car seat safety and installation on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats.
Please buckle up!
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