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Safety Laws in Texas

Texas has several laws in place to ensure both drivers and pedestrians are safe on the road. To protect yourself and those around you, make sure you're familiar with these laws BEFORE getting behind the wheel.

TX Seat Belt Laws

To increase the safety of all motor vehicle drivers and passengers, seat belts are mandatory in Texas, according to state law. Failure to abide these laws may result in fines up to $200 for the driver and passenger.

Child Safety Seats

Depending on your child's age and height, he or she may be required to use a child safety seat while inside a motor vehicle.

Children under 8 years old MUST use a safety seat according to the manufacturer's specifications, UNLESS they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.

Although not required by law, Texas recommends:

  • Rear-facing seats for all children until they EITHER:
    • Turn 2 years old and reach 35 lbs.
      OR
    • Outgrow the height and weight limits of the seat according to the installation instructions.
  • Forward-facing seats for children 2 years old and older until he or she outgrows the height and weight limits of the manufacturer safety seat.
    • Typically, this is usually around 4 years old.
  • Booster seats for children 4 years old and older and 40 lbs. or more until the adult safety belt fits properly.

Cell Phones & Texting While Driving

Although Texas law doesn't prohibit cell phone use for all drivers, there are some restrictions for certain motorists.

The use of wireless communication devices is not allowed under state law for drivers:

  • Operating a motor vehicle with a learner's permit for 6 months or less.
  • Under 18 years old.
  • Operating a school bus while children are present.
  • In school zones.
    • Includes texting and the use of handheld devices.

In addition, some local governments have adopted additional laws that may prohibit sending text messages and reading data from wireless devices while driving. For more information, please contact your local law enforcement agency, and check out our distracted driving section.

Window Tinting Restrictions

Texas allows sunscreening devices such as window tinting as long as certain guidelines are met.

Below are the restrictions for standard passenger vehicles:

  • Windshield:
    • All window tint or other sunscreen device must end at the AS-1 line or 5 inches below the top.
    • Red, amber, and blue colors are not allowed.
    • A light transmittance of 25% or more is required.
    • A luminous reflectance of 25% or less is required.
  • Side windows:
    • To the right and left of the driver:
      • A light transmittance of 25% or more is required.
      • A luminous reflectance of 25% or less is required.
    • To the rear of the driver:
      • No laws or regulations.
  • Rear-facing windows:
    • No restrictions as long as the vehicle is equipped with side mirrors that reflect for a distance of at least 200 feet from the rear.
    • If no side mirrors are not present, the window must:
      • Have a light transmittance of 25% or more.
      • Have a luminous reflectance of 25% or less.

Exemptions to these laws include:

  • For-hire vehicles, such as:
    • Taxis.
    • Limousines.
    • Buses.
  • Law-enforcement vehicles.
  • Individuals with medical conditions who require limited exposure to sunlight.
    • Medical documentation is required.

Unattended Children & Pets in Cars

Because of the increased risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other medical conditions that may lead to permanent disability or death, Texas law prohibits you from leaving children of a certain age unattended while inside a motor vehicle.

Do not leave a child inside a vehicle for more than 5 minutes if:

  • He or she is under 7 years old.
  • The child is NOT attended by a person at least 14 years old.

These crimes qualify as a Class C misdemeanor and will be punished accordingly.

Though there are no statutes addressing the issue of unattended animals, Texas does have animal cruelty laws. Leaving pets inside of vehicles under extreme conditions could qualify as a punishable offense.

TX Motorcycle & Bicycle Helmet Laws

While riding a motorcycle in Texas, a helmet is not required as long as you:

  • Are 21 years old or older.
  • Have a health insurance plan covering injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.
  • Have successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course.

Laws requiring the use of a helmet while riding a bicycle can vary depending on your city or county of residence. Please check with your local law enforcement for more information.

Texas Headlight Laws

All motor vehicles must have 2 working headlights that shine white in color. Do not install any features that may obstruct the headlight such as a cover or grill.

Turn on your headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, or anytime when visibility is less than 1,000 feet.

  • Motorcyclists: Turn on your headlights during the daytime to increase your visibility to cars and trucks.
  • Bicyclists: Use a light on the front of your bike and a red light or reflector on the back at night.

For general tips on driving safely at night, visit our page on Night Driving. Make sure you always follow your state-specific night driving laws where they may differ from any general recommendations.

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