Tennessee in Limbo Over Updates to Child Safety Seat Requirements

In an effort to reduce driving fatalities in Tennessee, lawmakers have long advocated for seat belt laws and requirements for adult drivers and passengers.  For younger passengers, however, seat belt laws often are not enough.  Babies, toddlers, and even young children do not receive the same protection from seat belts that adults do, and need additional measures to ensure their safety while in a vehicle.  For this reason, many states have additional safety seat requirements for children of a younger age.

The science on necessary safety seat requirements has changed over the years, as our understandings over how to best protect children progress. For instance, forward facing and rear facing child seats have both been used at different times and for different ages.  Recently, the Tennessee legislature considered whether new information on safety seats warranted increasing the age at which children are no longer required to sit in safety seats, from eight to twelve years of age.

Currently, Tennessee law requires that children under the age of one be kept in rear-facing child seats, while children between one and three must be kept in forward facing child seats. From three to eight, a child must then be kept in a booster seat so as to allow adult-sized seat belts to do their job. New research, however, suggests that keeping children in booster seats until a much older age can reduce the risk of child fatalities during car accidents by 71 percent. For this reason, the Tennessee legislature has been considering a bill that would require all children to be kept in booster seats until they are 12 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches in height, in order to maximize the protection that booster seats provide.  The bill would also change the age requirement for rear-facing child seats to two years of age and would require children to be kept in child seats, rather than booster seats, between ages three and five.

The bill, House Bill 1468, which passed the House and the Senate on March 7th, was intended for the Tennessee governor’s desk, where it would needed to have been signed within ten days.  However, in an unexpected and largely unprecedented move, the legislature voted to recall the bill on March 10th, over concerns that the new requirement would go too far. According to legislators, after media concerning the bill’s new requirement that children be kept in booster seats until age 12, they received a flood of calls from concerned parents who felt the restriction was too much. On this basis, the bill was recalled so that members of the House of Representatives could reconsider whether the new age restrictions were appropriate in light of public interest and current science.

If you have been involved in an accident in which a child was not in a proper child seat, or was gravely injured as a result of faulty safety protections, experienced automobile accident attorney Eric Beasley can assist you in evaluating your potential liability or claims that you may have against other parties in your accident. For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and obtain compensation for injuries you may have experienced, contact the Law Office of Eric Beasley at 615-859-2223 or online.

Related Blog Posts:

Tennessee Lawmakers Encourage Automobile Safety Through Increased Seatbelt Fines, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, December 28, 2015

Improving Driver Safety in Tennessee By Reducing Cell Phone Use, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, December 4, 2015

Product Defects and Personal Injury – Tennessee Supreme Court Allows Auto Accident Case To Move Forward, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, November 30, 2015