Texas Seat Belt Laws
Written by Greg on July 10, 2014
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 transportation of minors.
This article deals with failing to wear a seat belt under section 545.413.
It is an offense to ride in a car while it is being operated and not be wearing your seat belt provided you are at least 15 years of age.
A fine can be not less than $25 or more than $50 but the real expense to people who fail to wear their seat belt is the cost of court and hassle factor. For instance, Harris County lists their total window fine for seat belt – adult at $150.
As many drivers understand, wearing a seat belt is also vital to ensuring safety while on the roadway. However, while this is generally common practice, individuals should also consider what the laws say regarding seat belt usage.
To start, 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, who are 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 does not only include car seats, no matter the type, but also refers to the restraints that are designed to keep the child within that seat. To this extent, a child passenger safety seat system refers to “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 the event of an unforeseen accident.
However, if a child is not properly secured in a safety seat then his would be considered a misdemeanor. Not only does this effect one’s driving record, but is also punishable by a fine not less than $25 and no more than $250. As a whole child safety seats should include the following:
- Birth -1 year, up to 35 pounds: A rear-facing seat must be used, and the chest clip must be secured under the baby’s armpits. In addition the harness must be fastened snugly against the baby’s body.
- 1-4 Years, 20 to 40 pounds: A forward-facing seat may be used as per the safety seat manufacturer recommendations.
- 4 – 8 Years, over 40 pounds: At this stage, a booster seat may be used.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 2.3 million adults were treated at emergency rooms because of car accidents that occurred in the year 2009. Estimated costs are over $70 billion per year for crash related injuries and death.
Some not so surprising factors are that seatbelt use can reduce the severity of injuries and also 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.
Needless to say, the largest groups of people who do not wear seatbelts are those adults age 18 to 34. Additionally, women are much more likely to wear their seatbelt then men.
Texas has done an admirable job in both enforcement of seat belt laws and also educating the public, which is a major step in efforts to reduce 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.
Please buckle up!