Graduating from a car seat or a booster seat to a “real” adult seat belt is considered quite a milestone by some children. It can be great for a child to feel more like an adult by bidding farewell to their child seat and riding in the car with Mom or Dad like a grown-up.
However, parents and caregivers may want to think twice before they graduate their child from the safety of a child passenger safety seat to an adult seat belt. Experts agree that the safest place for a child is in an age and size appropriate child passenger safety seat (child seat or booster seat) until they are large enough to fit safely in an adult seat belt.
By law your child must ride in an approved safety seat until they are 8 years old, or if they reach 4 foot 9 inches in height. If your child is under the age of eight but is over 4’9”, by law they do not need to ride in a booster seat. Once your child is eight years old, you will have to decide if he or she is ready to ride without a booster or safety seat.
Here are some guidelines from the Texas Department of Public Safety to help you decide if your child is ready for an adult safety belt. To use these guidelines, put your child in the vehicle’s seat. Make sure they are sitting all the way back, with their back straight up against the back of the seat. Then buckle the adult seat belt across them.
- When buckled and sitting with their back against the back of the seat, do their legs naturally bend over the edge of the seat? If not, it may be safer for them to continue to ride in a booster until their legs are longer.
- Does the lap belt portion of the seat belt fit low over your child’s hips and the top of their thighs? If not, your child may be safer in the booster seat until they grow a little more.
- Does the shoulder portion of the seat belt fit across the center of your child’s chest? If not, again your child may be safer in a booster seat until they grow a little taller.
Ensuring an appropriate fit is important because children can be very badly hurt in a car accident if the safety belt is not fitted correctly. A belt that is not fit correctly on a child can cause serious damage to the child’s internal organs or neck in a car crash.
Please check out our law library for more information about car seat safety. You can read more about Texas car seat and booster seat safety in our article “What you need to know about the new Texas child safety seat laws” and our blog “Did you know… tips on child car seat safety in Texas”.
Please contact the Houston based experienced personal injury attorneys VB Attorneys P.L.L.C. if you need help after a car or truck accident.