Car Seat Laws in Texas
Seat belts and child car seats save lives. In fact, half of teenagers and 20 to 44-year-olds in motor vehicle fatalities were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In order to entice drivers and passengers into wearing seat belts, there are strict laws pertaining to seat belt use. The same goes for child car seat usage. The laws in Texas regarding child safety seats are clear. If you are the driver, you are breaking the law if:
- A child under the age of 5 or less than 36 inches in height is not in a child safety seat; or
- A child younger than 17 is not wearing a seat belt
Child Fatalities and Injury Facts
Driving a motor vehicle is dangerous for people of all ages. However, for the very young it is a leading cause of death. Many small children are not properly protected by a seat belt, and an airbag can cause serious injury or death. Because of this, parents need to ensure that their child is properly restrained in a child seat and in the rear passenger seat. According to the Houston Police Department:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death and serious injury for children over 1 year old;
- A child under 5 years old who was unrestrained is killed every day in the United States; and
- Children are safest in the rear seat while properly harnessed in a child seat, booster seat, or in a seat belt if they are older.
Child Ejections Because of No Seat Belt or Car Seat
You face charges of child endangerment by not properly restraining your child in your vehicle, which seem minor when you consider the risk of injury to your child. In June of 2017, a mother’s son was ejected from the vehicle because he was neither in a car seat nor wearing a seat belt. The mother had sped up to cut off a pickup truck and collided with it, however no damage was caused and both vehicles continued driving.
A short while later, the mother sped into the fast lane on a highway, then cut back over to a slower lane and hit the same truck again, and this time her car flipped over, ejecting her child. The mother faces child endangerment charges, according to Chron.com. Ejections from a vehicle are often fatal.
Child Seat Sizing and Type Guidelines
There are four typical kinds of child seats. These include rear-facing car seats, booster seats, convertible car seats, or three-in-one seats that can also function as a booster seat. We strongly suggest that parents consider the following advice for young children riding in a motor vehicle:
- If the child is less than 2 years old, use a rear-facing seat and never put the child and child seat in the front seat, particularly where a passenger airbag is present;
- 2 to 4-year-olds should use a front-facing car seat; and
- Children 4 years old and older, or children who weighing 40 pounds or more, should use a booster seat with harness.
How to Keep Your Child Safe While Riding in a Car
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 59% of car seats are either used, installed, or secured incorrectly. It may seem to you that car seats should be easy to install, but a statistic like this shows that they are not as easy as one may believe. Another issue is that it becomes easy to start being lazy with the process, especially if you find that you are moving a car seat from one car to another frequently. However, an improperly secured or fitted car seat is essentially like not using a car seat at all, which can have fatal consequences in a car accident.
The Basics of Installing a Car Seat Properly
To understand how to install a car seat in your car or someone else’s, you need to remember that vehicles are equipped with lower anchors and tether anchors. As a parent, you should learn how to locate these in different types of vehicles that you might use or that your child may ride in. Rear-facing car seats typically use lower anchors only, according to The Car Seat Lady, while front facing car seats use the lower anchors and the tether anchor.
Purchasing a Car Seat
You must select a seat that is right for your child based on published guidelines. Rear-facing seats should be used for younger children and front facing or booster seats are acceptable for older children. It is important to do your research before you buy. Remember to look into the manufacturer’s history and the model of car seat. You can find reviews online and information about recalls.
However, do not buy a used seat or take one from someone you do not know well. Generally speaking, if someone has been in an accident with a child in a car seat, the car seat needs to be replaced or inspected by someone at your local fire department or car dealership. Moreover, all car seats have an expiration date. So, if you have a number of children and continue to use car seats or have a used one from a family member of friend, make sure to check the date.
Register With the Manufacturer After Purchasing a Car Seat
Diono, a company that manufactures car seats, is doing the right thing. They found a defect in their design; the belt that secures the child at the child’s chest had no padding, according to Click2Houston. The NHTSA has warned that securing a child with only a belt can result in chest injuries during an accident. This is evidence of why parents should always register with the manufacturer after purchasing a car seat.
Call a Houston Attorney
Parents who neglect to use child seats for smaller children, or enforce seat belt use for larger children put their youngsters at great risk of being ejected during a high speed collision or a rollover. For all of your car accident questions, do not hesitate to call a Houston attorney for immediate answers. The law offices of Michael P. Fleming & Associates are here for help today.