by Jim Adler
If you live in Texas and have a child, you must know and follow state laws designed for proper protection of children in automobiles.
It’s not enough to buckle up a child in a seatbelt which was designed for an adult-sized body. It’s not enough to hold a child in your lap. Your child must be properly restrained in a child booster seat, safety seat or car seat, depending on the child’s age, weight or height.
Essentially, the Texas car seat law requires that children under 8 years old and under four feet, nine inches tall (57 inches total) must be secured properly in a safety seat, car seat or booster seat. If the child is under 8 years old but already is 57 inches tall or taller, he or she is not required by law to use a child safety seat, and instead must use a safety belt or seat belt, just like an adult.
Here are some more rules:
A child who weighs up to 35 pounds must be secured in the backseat of the vehicle in a rear-facing safety seat.
A child who’s outgrown such a rear-facing safety seat and weighs over 35 pounds must be secured in the backseat in a forward-facing safety seat. Such children should use these seats until they reach 80 pounds or around 4 or more years old.
A child weighing over 40 pounds or who is age 4 or older must be secured in a booster seat which also uses the adult shoulder and lap safety belt.
When the adult safety belt will fit the child adequately (often at 100 pounds, or four feet, nine inches tall), an adult safety belt alone will suffice, without the booster seat. Also, at this point the child can ride in the front seat.
The Texas Department of Public Safety urges you to provide such protections for your child up until the maximum age, weight or height indicated before moving on to the next step.
Keep in mind that many people buy safety seats or booster seats, yet fail to install them properly. Seek help in getting instructions to install your particular safety seat or booster seat properly. That’s just as important as acquiring a safety seat in order to protect the life of your child.