Safety Laws in Tennessee
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- Children younger than one year old or weighing less than 20 pounds must be properly secured in an approved rear-facing child passenger restraint system.
- Children between the ages of one and three weighing more than 20 pounds must be properly secured in an approved forward-facing child passenger restraint system.
- Children between the ages of four and eight and less than 4'9" tall must be properly secured in an approved belt-positioning booster seat system.
Children exceeding these limits must follow the seat belt rules listed below.
If you're in the market for one, you can shop online for a car seat at any time. When ordering, be sure the seat matches your child's height, weight and age.
For more information on child safety seats, call (800) 99-BELTS, or one of the following regional child passenger safety centers:
- East Tennessee State University: (877) 267-4528
- Meharry Medical College: (615) 327-5900
- LeMoyne-Owen College: (901) 435-1536
Or, make an appointment and visit a child passenger safety inspection location.
Any adult, and any child exceeding the child safety seat limits, must be properly secured by a seat belt when riding in the front seat of a vehicle. Both shoulder and lap belts must be used if the vehicle is equipped with them.
Anyone under the age of 18 exceeding the child safety seat limit must be properly secured by a seat belt when riding in the back seat of a vehicle.
However, this law does not apply to cars manufactured before 1968, and sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks manufactured before 1972 that don't have safety belts installed in them.
Drivers are responsible for seeing that the safety belt and child safety seat rules are followed in their vehicle. Drivers can be nailed with a ticket, fine, and two points on their license for failing to ensure compliance within their vehicle.
However, licensed passengers over 15 years old are responsible for their own conduct, and may receive a ticket for disobeying the rule.
Law enforcement officials may stop a vehicle solely for a safety belt or child restraint seat infraction.
The state provides a frequently asked questions page covering many common questions about seat belt and child safety seat use.
Any learner permit or intermediate driver license holder cannot use a cell phone (hand-held or hands-free) or any other type of mobile communications device while driving. It's illegal for anyone to type or read a text message while driving.
Also, anyone driving a school bus may not use a cell phone, unless it's to report an emergency situation.
Headlights must stay on whenever driving from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise, and whenever conditions make it impossible to clearly see at least 200 feet ahead.
Additionally, you must use headlights whenever precipitation requires the use of windshield wipers.
High beams should not be used within 500 feet of another vehicle.
Anyone riding on a motorcycle, moped or scooter must wear an approved helmet.
Additionally, protective goggles or glasses must be worn unless the cycle is equipped with a windshield.
Although the state doesn't have a special number to report dangerous or suspected drunk drivers, call the Tennessee Highway Patrol on your cell phone at *THP (or *847) to report emergency situations encountered while driving.
Knowingly leaving a child under the age of seven in a vehicle on public property without the supervision of someone who is at least 13 years old can be considered a Class B misdemeanor (with a $200 fine) if any of the following are true:
- The vehicle's engine is running
- The child's health or safety could be at risk
- The keys to the vehicle are inside the car
Other Topics in This Section
- Traffic Alerts
- 511 Traffic Systems
- Tire Recalls
- Safety Laws
- How Emotions Affect Driving
- Driving in Hazardous Conditions
- Teen Drivers: A Beginner's Guide
- Seniors: When To Turn Over The Car Keys
- Packing Your First-Aid Kit
- Seven Senior Safety Suggestions
- Wildlife on the Road
- When to Call Wildlife Rescue
- Taking A Mature Driver Course
- Medications & Driving
- Night Driving
- Hallucinations on the Road
- How To Drive Distraction Free
- Treating Motion Sickness
- Road Rage: How To Deal With It
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