Texas Safety Laws

Driver, Passenger and Child Safety

There are a number of laws in Texas designed to decrease accidents for drivers and reduce injuries for pedestrians on the road. Laws cover a wide range of safety issues, from child car seat regulations to punishments for driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In order to stay safe on the road as both a driver and pedestrian in Texas, make sure to obey the rules set forth for your safety and the safety of others. Avoid high fines, a suspended license and even incarceration by obeying the safety rules set up by the government.

Car Seat Laws for Children in Texas

Children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall, and under the age of 8, must use a car seat that is approved by the federal government. Car seat requirements are dependent upon the age, height and weight of the child in question. To know what type of seat your child must use in the state of Texas, check out the following requirements:

Newborn to one year old, 35 pounds or less:

  • A rear-facing child seat is required for babies less than one year old and less than 35 pounds.

Birth – 1 year old and up to 35 pounds:

  • The car seat that you buy for your child will have both height and weight restrictions listed with the direction. Be careful to install the car seat properly so that it is effective against injury.

One year to four years of age, twenty to forty pounds:

  • A forward-facing car seat is needed for your child that is over a year old and more than 20 pounds. Check the manufacturer’s label on the car seat you purchase to make sure it is suitable for forward facing. Install the car seat by following the directions of the manufacturer.

Four years to eight years old, over forty pounds:

  • Children who are between four and eight, weighing less than forty pounds, must use a booster seat in Texas. Make sure to find a comfortable, safe booster seat for your child and use the seat belts as they are designed.

If you don’t follow the child safety car seat laws in Texas, the first offense is a $25 fine. Each offense beyond the first offense can cost you up to $250 each time. The rules are about keeping your children safe. No fine is enough if your children get critically injured because they weren’t using the appropriate car seat.

Laws for Seat Belt Use in Texas

As long as the car has seat belts, everyone who is a passenger or driver in every moving car in Texas must wear a seat belt. Both passengers and drivers can receive a fine for failing to wear a seat belt.

The fines for not wearing a seat belt in Texas include:

  • Operating a motor vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, fine is up to $200.
  • Passengers over the age of 14 who are not wearing a seat belt can be fined $25-$50 in Texas.
  • Any passengers who are under 17 years old and do not wear a seat belt can be fined $100-$200, and the fine is the responsibility of the driver.
  • Any child that is under 18, and rides in the back of an open-bed truck or flatbed truck will be assessed a fine from $25to $200 per child. The fine is the responsibility of the driver.

Bike and Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Texas

Motorcycle Helmets

As a licensed motorcycle driver, you do not have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Texas if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are 21 years old or older.
  • Your health insurance coverage includes motorcycle accident injuries.
  • You have finished a training and safety course for motorcycle operators with success.
  • If you don’t wear a helmet and you don’t meet the above restrictions, you will probably receive a fine and/or ticket for the offense.
  • Although it is not the law in Texas to wear a motorcycle helmet, it is an important piece of safety equipment that should not be overlooked. Serious head injuries can be avoided by wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle.

Bicycle Helmets

The state of Texas is large, and different cities have various laws regarding the use of safety helmets when riding a bike. To find out if you need to wear a bike helmet, check with your local police department to see if it is a law in your county.

Drivers Use of Cell Phones in Texas

You can not use a cell phone while driving in the state of Texas if you:

  • Are less than eighteen years old.
  • Are driving a school bus with children riding on it.
  • Have been driving with a learner’s permit for six months or under.
  • You are in a school crossing zone.

There are additional rules regarding the use of cell phones, depending on where you live. If you are concerned about following the laws of cell phone use in your city, call your local police station to find out the regulations.

Driving While Intoxicated, Drunk Driving Laws in Texas

Suspended license, monetary fines and incarceration are all possible penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Texas.

  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol impairs your ability to drive a car. Intoxication refers to alcohol or drug use that has changed your mental and physical capabilities.
  • If your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit in Texas, you are considered driving while intoxicated.
  • Drivers who are under 21 and found to be intoxicated should understand that it is illegal to have any alcohol or illicit drugs in their system. Charges for being under 21 and intoxicated may include community service, suspension of license, fines and mandatory attendance at alcohol awareness classes.

The following penalties may occur if you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated in the state of Texas:

  • Fines no more than $2,000.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to twelve months.
  • A fee to keep your driver’s license, up to $2,000 per calendar year for a period of three years.

If you are charged again with driving while intoxicated, you may face further incarceration, and complete loss of your license to drive in the state of Texas.

How to Identify and Report a Suspected Drunk Driver in Texas

There is a toll free helpline for motorists in the state of Texas, (800) 525-5555. Call this number if you feel another driver is driving in an unsafe manner. If possible, provide the car’s make, model, license plate and approximate location at the time of your call.

Some erratic driving to look out for when you are concerned someone is behind the wheel driving while intoxicated:

  • The driver swerves across the double yellow line.
  • The driver is unable to stay in their lane.
  • The driver speeds up and stops inconsistently.
  • The driver slows down or speeds up for no reason.
  • The driver is going way slower than the speed limit.
  • The driver does not react to traffic lights.
  • The driver does not signal properly.

Leaving Children in a Car Unattended in Texas

No child under the age of 7 can be left alone in a car for any amount of time. This is illegal in Texas. All children in a car under seven years old must be in the car with a child who is 14 or older.

The fine for leaving a child under 7 in a car unattended can be fined up to $500. Child protective services may even be called to investigate.

Using Headlights in Texas

To drive safely in Texas, all cars must have two headlights that work and are white. You can’t use any accessories on the headlights that block the light such as a grill cover.

  • Headlights should be on a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, or if visibility is worse than 1,000 feet.
  • For motorcycles, it is imperative to turn on headlights at all times to be more noticeable to cars and trucks.
  • For bike riders, to maximize your safety, use a red light or reflector at night while also using a front light to guide your path.