Child Safety Seats

What is the Texas law for child passenger safety?
All children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9”, are required to be in the appropriate child safety seat system wherever they ride in a passenger vehicle. The safety seat system MUST be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Another way of saying this is: When a child reaches their 8th birthday - no matter their height, it is legal for the child to use only the adult safety belt in the passenger vehicle.
What are the recommended four stages of child passenger safety?
  1. Rear-Facing Seat: Infants stay rear-facing as long as possible - to the upper weight limits of the harness - but never forward-facing before their first birthday and 20-22 pounds.
  2. Forward-Facing Seat: Toddlers go forward-facing in a five-point harness until the upper limits of the harness, usually 40-65 pounds.
  3. Booster Seat: Children from about age four up to 4’9” tall.
  4. Adult Safety Belt: From 4’9” and taller.
Is it legal to allow a child to ride in the front seat?
Texas law does not specify where in the vehicle a child is required to ride - BUT - the law does require that all child safety seat systems must be used according to the owner’s manuals. ALL rear-facing seats are prohibited from being used on the front seat of the vehicle if there is a passenger air bag. The only way the rear-facing safety seat can be legally and properly installed on the front seat of a single-cab vehicle is to manually turn the air bag to the “off” position. Some manufacturers prohibit using their products in certain seating positions of different vehicles. Children are safer if they ride properly restrained in the back seat than if they are in the front seat. Follow the vehicle manufacturers’ requirements and recommendations to keep all children 12 years old and younger properly restrained in the back seat.

Are any passenger vehicles exempt from the child passenger safety law?
Yes - vehicles for hire: taxi cabs, limousines, hired shuttles, public transit buses and also passenger vehicles in which all seating positions equipped with safety seat systems and safety belts are occupied. In addition, emergency or law enforcement purposes are defenses to prosecution.

A child safety seat violations can result in a substantial fine, plus court costs.