When Can A Child Sit In The Front Seat

When Can A Child Sit In The Front Seat?  Front Seat Law

Child seat laws have mostly remained the same in Texas. The last substantial change in these laws occurred more than a decade ago. To put it simply, the Texas Transportation Code states that failing to secure a child in a safety seat properly is a misdemeanor offense. One provision in the law that has remained consistent is that a child cannot be allowed in the front seat under any circumstances. A child that is under a year old should be placed in a rear-facing child seat in the back seat of the car. Children that have reached a year old can be placed in a safety seat that faces forward in the rear of the vehicle. 

The DPS Best Practice Recommendations

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) best practices recommendations related to child safety are published every year. The following are recommendations for 2018:

  • A child should be secured in a rear facing safety seat for as long as possible until the child reaches the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat.
  • Children that outgrow the rear-facing seat should ride in the forward-facing safety seat until they reach 4 years old or older.
  • A child that is 4 years or older and weighs 40 pounds or more can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult safety belt fits them properly
  • Children that outgrow their booster seat, normally at age 10-12, should use the adult lap/shoulder belt if it fits them properly.

Situations Where A Child May Sit In The Front Seat

Child Car SeatYou don’t have to secure a child that is under 8 years of age in a safety seat if the child is taller than four feet, nine inches. Another exemption is that you don’t have to secure a child in a vehicle that is being operated for law enforcement in an emergency. Vehicles for hire such as taxi cabs, hired shuttles, public transit buses, and passenger vehicles in which seating positions equipped with child passenger safety systems or safety belts are occupied, are also exempt.

Penalties For Not Securing A Child

To avoid paying a $250 penalty, make sure you secure your under 8 year old child in a child passenger safety seat system when you operate your vehicle. People who break this law may also be sentenced to probation by a judge. The judge may also require you to provide proof that you finished a course approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. These courses normally include four hours of instruction on the use of child passenger safety systems. 

Importance Of Seat Belt Safety

Improper use of seat belt can lead to chocking and other serious injuries. A proper restraint for a child protects the child from getting crushed against the seat belt because of the force from the momentum of an accident. The right restraint is designed accommodate your child’s weight, height, and age. When your children reach the right age to use normal seat belts, make sure they wear the seat belt at all time.

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