Tennessee Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws

Tennessee Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws

For any parent, there’s nothing more horrifying than being involved in a car accident with your child in the vehicle. From the time a child is an infant to a teenager, a parent’s first thought and concern is always the child’s safety.

However, seatbelts and airbags don’t always provide adequate protection for infants and children in vehicles. Airbags deploy with such speed and force that they often can cause head or neck injuries to young passengers. Seatbelts have proven to be extremely effective in decreasing the risk of serious injury or death for drivers and passengers, but they aren’t engineered for children under a certain height. For this reason:

  • Infants and children should always be placed in car seats or booster seats specifically designed to shield them from harm in the event of a collision.
  • The seat should keep the child’s head and neck movement to a minimum and protect the child from debris.
  • Booster seats should raise them to the correct height so that their seatbelt is in the right position.

It is crucial for parents to understand the Tennessee car seat and booster seat laws that are in place to protect their children in the event of a crash.

Child Passenger Restraint Laws in Tennessee

According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the following regulations are in effect as part of the Child Passenger Restraint Law:

  • All children younger than 1 year old, or any child weighing 20 pounds or less, must be in a “child passenger restraint system in a rear-facing position, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards, in a rear seat.”
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 3, and weighing more than 20 pounds, must be secured in a child safety seat facing forward in the rear seat.
  • All children between the ages of 4 and 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches (4’9″) must be in a “belt-positioning booster seat system, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards,” in the back seat. If the child is older than 8 but still measures less than 4’9″ in height, he or she must still use a seat belt system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards.
  • All children between the age of 9 and 12 or measuring taller than 4 feet 9 inches in height must use a seat belt system and should be sitting in a rear seat.

Tennessee also mandates that children between the ages of 13 and 15 must be restrained by safety systems that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers younger than 16 are properly restrained according to the law.

For infants and toddlers, it’s important to make sure your car seat or booster is well maintained and checked by professionals, especially if it has been handed down to you or has transported multiple children over the years. Don’t hesitate to have a professional show you how to correctly install and use the safety seat before transporting your child for the first time.

There are many child safety seat fitting stations across the state, which you can find on the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s website.

The Evolution of Tennessee’s Child Safety Seat Laws

Motor vehicle safety features are still relatively new in the United States. In fact, lap and shoulder belts weren’t available in cars until 1959. The earliest car seats weren’t even designed with safety in mind. Instead, they were designed to keep the child anchored in place and allow the child to look out the window.

In 1978, Tennessee was the first state to enact a child passenger safety law in the United States. The law required parents to place infants and young children in child restraint systems that met federal standard (FMVSS 213). By 1985, all states had child seat laws in place.

In 2016, the Tennessee state legislature passed an updated child safety bill through both houses of Congress. There was overwhelming support for the bill. It followed recommendations from physicians and auto manufacturers and brought the state’s child restraint laws in line with the rest of the country.

However, the State House of Transportation Committee later waitlisted the bill before the governor could sign it. The bill was eventually dropped. The main changes focused on keeping toddlers in rear-facing seats until age 2, forward-facing car seats until age 5, and booster seats until age 12 (or until the child reaches a height of 4-foot-9).

If Your Child Has Been Hurt in a Crash, Let Us Help

Was your child injured in an accident? Did the child safety seat fail to properly protect them during the collision? An accident like this is unthinkable and is certainly difficult to cope with. To get the legal counsel you need during this difficult time, turn to David E. Gordon for help.

For years, David E. Gordon has fought to protect injured adults and children in Tennessee and has worked hard to get them the justice they deserve after life-altering accidents. If you are looking for compassionate and experienced legal representation for your personal injury claim, do not hesitate to reach out to David and his team today.

Let our knowledgeable, experienced, board-certified attorney help you demand justice after a devastating car accident. Contact us at (901) 667-8305 to schedule a free case evaluation today. We are available to discuss your case 24/7.

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