Seatbelt Law Texas
All drivers within the State of Texas drivers must be aware and follow current Texas seat belt law requirements. These safety laws concerning car restraints must be followed every time one gets into their vehicle either alone or with the accompaniment of other passengers. Known officially as Section 545.413 of the Texas State Transportation Code it defines the exact regulations for the wearing of seat and lap belts, as well as how one will be fined for not following the law to its fullest.
The law was enacted with the hope of minimizing bodily injuries and lowering the fatality rate that results from countless automobile accidents each year. Everyone driving within the State of Texas is advised to learn all the facets of the law, to keep themselves and everyone in their vehicle safe while on the road. Local and out-of-state drivers are advised that not following the law will carry fines, the possible suspension of one’s driver’s license and jail time in extreme cases of negligence.
Section 545.413 of the Texas Transportation Law
The Texas seat-belt law is made up of two sections, each with its own descriptions and directions. Section A states that, “it is illegal for anyone, adult or child, to ride in the front seat of a vehicle that has seat belts without having their seat belt properly fastened.” Section B concerns itself with the use of seat restraints for infants, children and teenagers under 17 years of age while riding in “any part” of an automobile equipped with safety restraints.
While Section B of the Texas seat-belt law is clear about the use of safety restraints for underage passengers, adult passengers riding in the back seat can decide for themselves if they wish to wear seat and lap restraints. However if that automobile is involved in an accident, the driver of the vehicle is legally responsive for all passengers (young and old) who are not properly wearing safety restraints. For this reason alone, it is worth noting that seat belts and restraints should be used at all times as a matter of habit.
Car restraints for children
Passengers under the age of 17 must be properly restrained while riding in both the front or back seat. Unlike adults riding in the back seat, the law does not assume that juvenile passengers are mature enough to make their own decisions. A child seat must be used for children under eight years old, unless that child has already reached a height of four foot nine inches tall. Failure to place your child in a car seat appropriate for their age, height and weight can result in fines ranging from $25 up to $250.
Guidelines for car seats by age:
Infants from birth up to two years (and 35 pounds in weight) must:
- Be seated in a rear facing federally approved car seat suitable for their age, height and weight.
- The seat chosen by the driver must be properly installed and affixed to the child.
- Be seated in a forward racing seat as recommended by the manufacturer of that federally approved seat.
- Must be seated in a federally approved booster seat.
Toddlers from two to four years old (or between 20 and 40 pounds in weight) must:
Young children between the ages of four and eight (weighing over 40 pounds):
Drivers and parents must follow instructions carefully
An important aspect of restraining an infant or child, pertains to whether they are seated in the front or back seat of an automobile. Due to the fact that most modern automobiles come equipped with driver, front passenger and side airbags, drivers must place children under one year (and 35 pounds) in rear facing child seats in the back seat of the car. This placement works to avoid injury and even death in the event of a collision.
Toddlers of one to four years of age may be seated in forward facing safety seats. However, to avoid injury, these must be placed in the back seat of the automobile as well. This technique must be followed until the child has reached the point at which they weigh more than 40 pounds. If a child has reached the age of five but is less than 36 inches in height, the law maintains that they must still be placed in a safety seat for their protection.
Children under the age of five but taller than three feet may be placed in a booster seat. Usage of a booster seat generally continues until the child has reached a height of four foot nine inches or weighs in at over 80 pounds. As children grow and mature at different rates, the move from one seat to another will slightly vary depending upon their size.
From booster seat to seat belt
There will come the time for your child to move from booster seat to adult seat and lap restraint. A child must be able to sit in the back seat of the vehicle on their own, with their back held straight against the back seat upholstery. They should be tall enough that their knees can naturally bend over the seat edge. If they are still too short, then they need to continue to ride in a booster seat.
When wearing an adult lap and seat belt, the belt itself must fit low on the hip area. Shoulder straps need to fit over the shoulder and collarbone of the wear. At no time should a lap restraint cover the face, neck or head of the child. If the seat belt cannot be comfortably affixed as such, than the child should continue to sit in a booster seat.
Teenagers who have reached the age of thirteen may ride in the front passenger seat of the automobile as adults. Drivers must be mindful that teen passengers between the ages of 13 and 17 must wear their safety restraints at all times in a moving vehicle. This is true whether they are riding in either the front or rear passenger seats.
Exceptions to the Seatbelt Law
There are several exceptions to the law, which provide for unusual situations, most often arising from vocations that depend upon delivery of items. For example, postal workers driving and delivering the mail can do so without actively wearing safety restraints. This provision additionally applies to those who deliver newspapers or workers who read utility meters from their vehicle. Seat and lap belts are also not required by law for those who operate tractors and other farming vehicles that weigh under 48,000 pounds.
Drivers and passengers who cannot wear safety restrains for medical reasons are excused from the law too. To prove their inability to safely wear a seat or lap belt, a physician’s excuse is necessary. Should an automobile they are driving or riding in be stopped by an officer of the law, they must show this documentation to avoid being fined.
Fines and legal penalties
Should a driver be approached by an officer of the law or involved in an automobile accident, the inability to follow Section 545.413 carries financial fines and serious penalties. These will be charged to the driver of the vehicle and not the passenger in question, no matter the age of the passenger. Drivers need to be aware that not following both Section A and Section B will affect their future ability to legally drive an automobile in the State of Texas.
- Drivers found driving without wearing seat and lap restraints can be fined up to $200.
- Adult passengers riding without seat and lap restraints can bring about fines of $25 to $50.
- Juvenile passengers (under the age of 17) riding without seat and lap restraints will incur fines of $100 to $200.
- Juvenile passengers (under the age of 18) riding in flatbed trucks or open bed style pickup trucks will incur fines ranging from $25 all the way up to $200.
Fees for failing to follow the texas seat-belt law will also incur court courts for the driver of the automobile. These vary depending upon the municipality in which the driver received their ticket. Once in court, the judge may suggest that the driver take a safety course to improve their automotive skills. This approved course will teach safe driving techniques, in addition to how the texas seat belt law must be followed.
The judge may direct the driver to present a certificate of completion the court. Should this be a requirement, drivers are usually given the option of classroom time, pre-recorded classes or online classes where available. In each case, the driver is responsible for the cost of taking this approved safe driving course.