Brian White | October 10, 2023 | Texas Laws
Important safety rules that protect children in cars have evolved over the years in response to accident and safety data. The law reflects this evolution and typically changes to reflect any updates. At one time, there were simply no rules to address the issue of children riding in the front seat.
Today, however, experience, research, and testing have conclusively demonstrated that children are safer in certain seats of a car than in others, with the front seat being particularly dangerous for young children. For this reason, the state of Texas has implemented age and height requirements for children riding in the front seat.
What Are the Dangers of Children Riding in the Front Seat?
Law enforcement, government, and safety agencies from around the country unanimously agree that small children belong in the backseat of the car. Data show that children riding in the front seat face the threat of injury or death from deploying airbags.
These safety measures are effective when protecting adults. However, they are dangerous for smaller children due to the force they generate when deployed. Even with low-speed crashes, the risk of injury or death to a child from a front seat airbag is simply too high.
Texas Laws and Children in the Front Seat
Texas law specifically states that children 8 years old or younger must use an approved and appropriate child seat. After a child turns 8, children are permitted under Texas law to ride in any adult passenger seat of a vehicle. Children who are 4’9” or taller may also ride in any of a vehicle’s passenger seats, even if they are under the age of 8.
In other words, size is an important metric when determining whether a child should be in the front seat. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, best practices dictate that regardless of age, children under 4’9” should remain in the back seat.
Child in the Front Seat
According to Texas law, a child under 4’9” or under the age of 8 must be in a car seat. The question is, “Can a car seat be utilized in the front seat of a car legally?” The answer is that it depends. If a child is in a rear-facing child seat, they may not sit in the front seat if airbags are installed and are activated.
However, if the airbags are deactivated, which some car manufacturers allow consumers to do with the flip of a switch, then it is permissible for a child in a rear-facing car seat to ride in the front.
What Happens If a Child Is Injured in the Front Seat?
When a child riding in the front seat is injured in a car accident, the parents will likely be interested in recovering compensation. However, since Texas is an at-fault state, they would have to demonstrate that someone was at fault for the crash.
If someone else is at fault, they or their insurance company would likely look for a defense to the claim. For example, a strong defense against a claim for compensation in this instance would be to demonstrate that the child should not have been in the front seat at all.
To be successful with this defense, it would have to be proven that the child should have been in a car seat and was not, that the car seat they were in should have been in the backseat, or that the airbags should have been turned off.
Keep Your Child in the Back Seat As Long As Possible
Keeping your child in the backseat as long as possible decreases the likelihood of serious injury in the event of a crash. Determining if and when your child should be in the front seat can be tricky. A Texas car accident lawyer can help address your questions and concerns.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.
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