New driving laws go into effect Tuesday, September 1 in Texas
  1. For the first time, everyone in a vehicle will need to wear a seat belt – not just those in the front seat or younger than 15.
  2. Drivers also must secure children younger than 8 in car safety seats, not just those 4 and younger.
  3. Talking on a cell phone while driving in a school zone will no longer be allowed.
  4. The restrictions are greater for younger drivers – they can’t talk on cell phones or text message at all while driving.
  5. How do I know if my child can safely ride without a booster seat?
  6. Vehicle manufacturers design their products for adults – not kids – and they support keeping kids in the appropriate safety or booster seat until the child can properly wear the adult safety belt.typically when they reach 4’9″ tall.
  7. Once your child has reached eight years old, to know when they can wear an adult seat belt properly without a booster seat, use this simple test:
  • Have your child sit on the vehicle seat, sitting all the way back, with their back straight against the back of the seat, and buckle the lap/shoulder belt over them.
  • Do their legs bend naturally at the knees over the edge of the seat?
  • Does the lap portion of the belt fit low over the hips and top of their thighs?
  • Does the shoulder portion of the belt fit across the center of their chest?
  • If the answer to any of these three questions is no, the child may be better protected in a booster seat.
  1. A child in a poorly-fitting adult seat belt usually slumps down, allowing the seat belt to ride up into their abdomen or neck, which can cause severe injuries to the child’s neck and internal organs during a car crash.
  2. Although there is no law that prevents youngsters from sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, the safest place for a child in a car is in a rear seat, properly buckled into a child safety seat or a booster seat.
  3. Air bags don’t replace child safety seats and may increase the risk of serious injury to children. Children younger than 13 should never ride in the front seats of vehicles with active passenger air bags. If you do have to transport a child in the front seat in an emergency – make sure the front seat is moved all the way back on the track, placing as much room as possible between the deployment zone of the air bag and the vehicle seat.  NEVER place a rear-facing safety seat on a front seat.

Information from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sirjana Sharma, LLM