Car seat laws are different in each state, but one thing is certain: Children are safer when they ride in a child safety seat designed for their age and weight. The Texas Department of Public Safety lists guidelines and recommendations for child passenger safety. Parents should know these laws and facts before going on the road with a child.
Texas law states that children under 8 years old and under 4 feet 9 inches tall, when riding in a vehicle, must be in the appropriate child safety seat. Installation of these seat systems must follow the manufacturer's instructions. Once children reach their 8th birthday, they can legally use the adult safety belt in the car. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children continue to use an appropriate booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Texas law does not specify that a child has to ride in the backseat, but it is the safest place for children under the age of 13.
Best practice recommendations
The law gives the minimum safety practices for keeping children safe. The AAP has additional recommendations to minimize the injuries to a child during an accident:
- Make sure to properly install the car seat in your vehicle. In Texas, you can find nationally certified child passenger safety technicians through Texas Health and Human Services. A free inspection by an expert can ensure that you are doing it right.
- Follow the age guidelines. Your child should meet the age, height and weight requirements of any child safety seat that you use.
- A safety seat not only needs to fit your child but also your vehicle. The safety seat needs to fit snugly in the safety belt of the car, and over 80 percent of the seat's base must fit on the car seat.
- If you have a used or borrowed seat, check to make sure the manufacturer has not issued any recalls on the model, and that your seat has not passed the expiration date for safety.
Dealing with an accident
Even when you take every precaution as a parent, you cannot always prevent accidents. If your child sustains serious injury in a car crash, you may benefit from talking to an experienced attorney to get an honest assessment of your claim before settling with the insurance company.