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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 325 children under 5 are saved by car seats in one year. The Texas Department of Transportation states that “motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children.” 

Parents are required to have car seats to protect their children if an accident were to occur. With children being extremely vulnerable to getting hurt in a car accident, it is important to be familiar with the car seat laws and safety guidelines for your child’s well-being. 

The right car seat should be on top of your list of all things you purchase for your child. Further, choosing a car seat that is adequate for your child is important. The right car seat will fit your child’s weight, size, and age and your vehicle. 

What are the car seat laws in Texas?

Since Texas requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, it is important to know the laws that regulate car seats and seat belts. In summary, the law states that all children under 17 years of age must be secured in a safety belt or child safety seat. 

Additionally, children under the age of eight must ride in a car seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Older children that have outgrown a booster seat must be buckled with a seat belt. In addition, children under the age of 13 must be buckled up in the backseat rather the front passenger seat. If anyone fails to follow these laws, the police can fine them up to $250.  

Are there federal safety standards for car seats? 

The approval process of car seats and booster seats is covered by the federal government. However, companies conduct their own testing based on a set of federal standards before putting a car seat on the market. Some states require that car seats be federally approved, which means that it must go through testing and certification before being sold. All car seats are required to meet federal safety standards in a 30-mph crash test. 

What are the recommended four stages of child passenger safety?

The following are the recommended practices and laws for the car seats that a child may use: 

  1. Rear-facing seat: DPS recommends rear-facing seats for phase one. This seat will allow infants to stay rear-facing until their weight reaches the upper weight limits of the harness. Generally, they will not be forward-facing before reaching 20-22 pounds or their first birthday.
  2. Forward-facing seat: Once a child has exceeded the rear-facing seat manufacturer’s recommendations, toddlers ride forward-facing. Most seats will have a five-point harness with weight limits of 40-65 pounds. 
  3. Booster seat: children from about age four up to 4’ 9” tall
  4. Adult safety belt: Children are permitted to wear an adult seat belt once they are 4’ 9” and taller. 

What are the common mistakes when using a car seat?

With various options available, there is room for error when choosing the right car seat for a child. Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Not installing the car seat according to your car regulations and the car seat manufacturer
  • Advancing to booster seats too fast
  • Using the wrong car seats for a child’s age, weight, or height
  • Children sitting in the front seat
  • Buying used car seats- it is important to do research as car seats have expiration dates. Even if the car seat isn’t expired, make sure that it isn’t damaged, hasn’t been involved in a car accident, or been recalled.
  • Chest clips on harness not in a proper position. The clips must be at armpit level.
  • Straps are too loose. When pinching the harness at the collarbone, it shouldn’t be possible to pinch excess webbing. 

Should I take my car seat when traveling on a plane?

Yes, you should take your car seat when you are traveling, even by plane. Travelers may run into this issue when starting their trip by vehicle and deciding to take a flight once they arrive at their new destination, or they may simply need one when arriving at their final destination.

Travelers have the option of checking in the seat or using it during the flight. Check the following scenarios to better decide what works best for your family’s needs, budget, and risk tolerance:

  • Are you comfortable with having your baby on your lap for the entire flight?
  • How do you plan on getting from the airport to your other destination?
  • How will you be traveling once at your destination?
  • How much traveling do you plan on doing once at your destination?

Most, if not all, airlines will accept child safety seats as checked baggage for no additional charge. Regardless of what your family decides, even traveling with a cheaper travel car seat can be a great strategy.

How do I know if the adult safety belt fits properly on my 8-year-old?

Once children reach the age, height, or weight limit, many are eager to get out of the booster seat. Many children can stop using restraints at 8 years old, with some states requiring age 8 or 80 pounds. However, not all 8-year-olds will be tall enough. Check out our tips to determine whether it’s safe to allow them to sit with only a regular seatbelt:

  • Have your child sit (without the booster seat) straight up against the back of the vehicle seat, and see if his or her knees bend over the edge of the seat. 
  • Make sure the seat belt stays low and tight across your child’s lap. If it does not, they must stay on the booster seat.
  • The shoulder strap of the seat belt must lay over the collarbone and shoulder, NOT on the face or neck. 
  • See if your child can maintain the correct seated position for an extended period of time with the seat belt in its proper place. 

If your child meets all of the requirements from above, it should be safe for your child to ride without a booster seat. Once they reach the age of 13, they may ride in the front passenger seat of the car. 

Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we care

As parents, we do our best to protect our kids from harm. Although we try our best, some accidents still occur, unfortunately. However, you aren’t alone. By contacting a car accident attorney, you and your family will be in good hands. We can help you understand your legal rights. We care, and we can help. 

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