Texas Car Seat Laws
For many children, it is not safe to ride in a vehicle without a car seat. Car seats can reduce the risk of injury during a motor vehicle collision significantly, compared to using a seat belt alone. To reduce the risk of injury in a car accident, Texas requires all drivers to use an appropriate car seat until a child reaches a certain size.
Car Seat Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car seats can reduce the risk of injury during a motor vehicle collision by 71% to 82%. Additionally, booster seat use can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for children between the ages of four to eight.
In 2018, 33% of the children who died in a car accident were not buckled up at the time of the accident. By using age-appropriate car seats, parents can better protect children from serious or fatal injuries.
What Are Texas’s Car Seat Laws?
Under Texas law, most children under 8 years of age must travel in a car seat at all times. Generally, drivers must use car and booster seats until a child is at least 4 feet and 9 inches tall and weighs at least 80 to 100 pounds.
- The law requires specific types of car seats for various age and weight groups.
- All children under one year old or under 35 pounds must use a rear-facing car seat. This car seat must be in the back seat of a car.
- Children who are at least one year old may sit in a forward-facing safety seat in the rear of the vehicle. The child must use this seat between one to four years of age and until they reach 40 pounds.
- If a child is under the age of five and less than 36 inches tall, they must continue to use car seats. If a child is under the age of five and more than 36 inches tall, they can begin to use booster seats. These seats must be in the back seat.
- Once a child reaches 4 feet and 9 inches tall, weighs 80 to 100 pounds, or reaches the age of eight, he or she will likely be ready to use a regular seat belt. However, he or she will need to continue to sit in the back seat. Children can begin to ride in the front seat of a vehicle once they reach the age of 13.
Legal Options for Defective Car Seat Victims
Parents trust car seats to keep their children safe while driving. Unfortunately, not all car seats are safe to use. Some safety seats have design and manufacturing defects or fail to warn parents of certain dangers. In the event of a crash, defective car seats will not provide the protection that children need—contributing to serious injuries.
Common car seat defects include the following.
- Flimsy buckles and chest clips that easily unlatch
- Small, detachable accessories that pose a choking hazard
- The use of flammable fabric
- Inadequate cushioning or safety padding
- Defective base units, which help keep a car seat in place
- Inadequate instructions for installation
- Defective handles, which increase the risk of falls
If your child sustained an injury due to a defective car seat, you and your family may be eligible for financial compensation. You could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer responsible for creating the defective seat, recovering compensation for medical expenses, car seat replacements, pain and suffering, and other losses. To determine if you have grounds for legal action, contact an attorney as soon as possible.