Just this year in Texas, a new, more-restrictive, carseat law took effect. The stringent requirements of this new law are making some parents annoyed enough that they mutter about it loudly at public gatherings, which is how I found out there was a new law! So I looked it up, worried that I might not be complying.
People are complaining about this? I had no idea that law was this lax, and it was even more lax before!
My three children all spend every trip we take anywhere buckled into some sort of contraption, but it turns out that the law requires none of them to actually do so. My youngest child is still four, but he’s more than three feet tall, so he’s clear. The other two are older than four, so they’re clear, too.
That’s it. Kids under five and under three feet tall need to be using car seats or boosters. Five year olds? Nope. Tall four year olds? Nope.
On September 1, 2005, the law changed as a result of Texas H.B. 183, which was ratified by the Texas House and Senate in May.
Here was the old wording (emphasis added):
A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than four years of age or less than 36 inches in height, and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.
Under that wording, a three-year-old is obviously included. And a 32-inch four-year-old? Also included. What about a 35-inch six-year-old? Yes, the “or” means that anyone less than 36 inches tall, no matter their age, needed to be in a car seat. Now OR has become AND, and the ambiguity is resolved.
It turns out that none of my children have needed to use car seats for quite a while now. You know what? I’m not telling them. The State of Texas can set whatever rules they want, but my rules say to sit down and buckle up.