Lots of people wonder whether there is a law that answers, “when can a child sit in the front seat in Texas?”
TL;DR: There is no law that sets out a specific at which a child can sit in the front seat in Texas.
However, there are a number of safety considerations that affect when a child can sit in the front seat. In combination with laws that affect the ages at which a child must be in a child seat, this does create some practical restrictions.
Texas Transportation Code Section Sec. 545.412 requires:
There are some important exceptions:
Once a child reaches the age of 8, they are no longer required to use a booster seat or a car seat, regardless of their age.
Stage 1: Rear-facing car seats are recommended to be used as long as possible up to the weigh limit of the harness. Children should always be in a rear-facing child seat up until they are either 1 year old or 22 pounds.
Stage 2: Forward-facing child seats are appropriate after a child is 1 or at least 22 pounds until they weigh between 40-65 pounds.
Stage 3: Booster seat. A child who has outgrown the Stage 2 child seat (generally around age 4) should use a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Stage 4: Adult Safety Belt: Once a child is 4 feet 9 inches tall or has reached the age of 8, they can use just an adult safety belt.
You generally cannot put a rear-facing child seat in the front seat if there is an airbag in the vehicle. The only exception is if you are able to turn the airbag off, which some single-cab vehicles allow.
It is otherwise recommended to use front-facing child seats
In Texas, there are no specific requirements for sitting in the front seat of a vehicle. However, there are certain laws and regulations that apply to all passengers in a vehicle, regardless of where they are seated.
If a child safety seat must be used in the front seat, it is important to ensure that the airbags are turned off, or that the seat is positioned in a way that the child will not be injured by the deployment of the airbags. The manual for the child safety seat and the vehicle should be consulted for specific instructions on how to safely use the seat in the front seat.
It is generally recommended that children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat of a vehicle for their safety. In the event of a crash, the back seat is generally considered to be the safest place for a child to be seated. However, there may be circumstances in which it is necessary to use a child safety seat or booster seat in the front seat of a vehicle. For example, if the back seat is occupied by other children, or if the vehicle does not have a back seat.
For children under the age of 2, a rear-facing child safety seat is required. This type of seat is designed to support the child’s head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash. The child must be placed in the seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and the seat must be properly installed and secured in the vehicle.
For children who are at least 2 years old but under the age of 8, a forward-facing child safety seat or booster seat is required. These seats are designed to support the child’s head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash, and to position the child’s seat belt in a way that is safe and comfortable.
Children under the age of 8 must be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches or weigh more than 40 pounds.
Remember these are minimum requirements. Parents and guardians should err on the side of caution when it comes to deciding when to move a child to the front seat. If you’re involved in a car wreck that was someone else’s fault, call one of our personal injury lawyers at (817) 207-4878.