Texas Seat Belt Law

Texas Accidents and Seat Belt Law

Despite Texas law that requires everyone traveling in a vehicle to wear a seat belt, hundreds of accidents occur every year where people are unrestrained. The consequences of these accidents can be tragic, even deadly, including people being ejected from vehicles during a crash. Our personal injury firm represents victims of accidents and understands every aspect of Texas seat belt laws.

Understanding Texas seat belt requirements is important for everyone so that you and everyone in your vehicle comply with the law. While there are certain specific exceptions and exemptions from the legal requirement to wear a seat belt, safety statistics show that wearing one helps save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.

Seat Belt Requirements in Texas

The law in Texas is plain and simple: if you are driving or riding inside a vehicle, you are required to wear a seat belt (or child safety seat or booster seat for children eight and under) by law. Further, Texas is one of the states with a “primary seat belt law,” meaning an officer does not require any other law to be broken—they can stop and fine you specifically for nonuse of a seat belt. They only have to observe that you are driving or riding without wearing one and can stop and ticket you for breaking the law.

Failure to wear a seat belt is a misdemeanor charge that can carry fines of up to $200 ($250 for children), but when combined with charges related to an accident, an unrestrained driver could face serious consequences.

There’s no question that seat belts increase safety. According to the NHTSA, the use of seat belts can reduce the risk of fatal injury to people in the front seat by 45%, and reduce the risk of moderate to serious/critical injury by 50%. Correctly used child restraints such as car seats and boosters reduce fatalities by a whopping 71% for infants and 54% for small children. Despite the statistics, many people do not restrain themselves or their children properly to maximize safety.

Exemptions for Seat Belts in Texas

While most people are required by law, there are a few exceptions to the legal requirement to wear a seat belt in Texas. These people are not required to wear a seat belt:

  • Postal workers
  • Utility meter readers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Newspaper delivery people
  • Operators of certain farm vehicles

Certain individuals may also be exempted from wearing a seat belt with an accompanying note from a physician stating that they should not be required to wear one for medical reasons.

Consequences of Not Wearing a Seat Belt in Texas

If someone is not wearing a seat belt and is responsible for an accident, the legal consequences can be much higher than if they were properly restrained, and their injuries could be much more severe. While the infraction for not wearing a seat belt is a legal misdemeanor, changes in Texas law in 2015 make it possible for lawyers to inform a jury that someone involved in or who caused an accident was not wearing a seat belt and can draw conclusions that injuries were caused as a result of this decision. This can have dramatic effects on personal injury cases and insurance claims, especially when the victims have severe or even fatal injuries. Evidence of nonuse of a seat belt can and will be used by a jury and/or insurance company when deciding responsibility and apportioning fault in a car accident case.

Texas Accident Lawyers

If you have been involved in an accident and believe the nonuse of a seat belt may have occurred, you need a lawyer who understands every aspect of Texas law as it relates to seat belt usage and negligence or fault. An experienced personal injury lawyer will fight for your rights when negotiating with insurance companies and, if necessary, will represent your interests in a trial.