What are the car seat laws in Tennessee?

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Things to remember...
  • Tennessee mandates numerous rules and regulations for child safety seats and child booster seats
  • Non-compliance with child restraint laws is a primary offense and comes with a fine
  • Parents and guardians must take numerous steps to protect a child’s safety when driving

Young children, especially toddlers, depend on adult help to avoid injury when transported in a car. A caring adult may try to protect a child from harm, but trying to do so without using a safety or booster seat may prove inadequate.

Inadequate seats can be dangerous in the event a car finds itself in a collision.

Even at a low rate of speed, a child could face a severe injury if not properly restrained. This is one reason why the state of Tennessee enacted certain rules for child safety seats within its borders.

Across the United States, state legislatures passed laws requiring children under a certain age or height be secured properly in an approved safety seat. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its long-standing advice on how to transport children in a car seat.

The AAP suggests the following:

  • Adults place toddlers in rear-facing car seats until their children reach two years of age
  • Until a young one is between ages eight and 12 and reaches four feet nine inches tall, he/she should be placed in a belt-positioning booster seat

Parents benefit from reading up on AAP’s detailed suggested about child safety when driving and also referring to their state’s local requirements. Doing so may improve child safety immensely.

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Car Seat Law for Tennessee


Tennessee law seems to be in agreement with the AAP’s suggestions. In the state, rear-facing seat rules are in effect. Specifically, the rules dictate rear-facing seats must be used when the child is:

  • Less than one-year old.
  • Less than 20 lbs in weight.

In addition to the rear-facing seat rule, Tennessee established driving regulations regarding forward-facing seats and booster seats.

These rules reduce the chances that a parent may select an inappropriate seat since thoughtful guidelines can be followed. The guidelines mandate drivers adhere to the following minimums:

  • Forward-facing seats for children one to three years of age.
  • Forward-facing seats for children one to three years old over 20 lbs.
  • Booster seats for children less than eight of years age.
  • Booster seats for children less than 57″ in height.

Tennessee enacted several other laws to protect children in cars. A young child cannot ride in a back seat or utilize an adult seat belt until he/she is more than nine years of age.

Additionally, the child must be more than 57″ in height in order to wear an adult seat belt. Parents should definitely review state statutes to make sure they remain in compliance.

Interestingly, in Tennessee, modifications to a child restraint device may be possible with a doctor’s prescription.

Non-compliance with Tennessee’s child safety seat laws means a fine. Since Tennessee lists child safety seat violations as a primary offense, a police officer does not need another moving or non-moving violation to stop a driver for not following child restraint laws.

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Consequences for Breaking the Law

In Tennessee, no points against a driving record are logged. Only a fine is imposed. The fine for not complying with state law in regards to child safety seats is $50.

If the driver is pulled over for more than just a safety seat violation, the $50 would be in addition to any other fines levied. Parents and guardians would better serve a child by putting $50 towards a reliable and new safety seat.

Provide for Child Safety and Care


Since children lack the ability to properly care for themselves, adults must accept the responsibility of protecting the little ones from harm.

Protecting a child inside a vehicle requires not only properly securing them and adhering to safe driving practices, it also involves purchasing the best insurance policy. Personal injury protection could cover a great deal of the medical bills the child may suffer in an accident.

An auto liability settlement might protect a child’s future by providing a settlement when a parent causes an accident.

Drivers should keep themselves and their family in mind when purchasing auto insurance. Never become complacent with auto insurance coverage.

Every six months, review three or more quotes and examine the protections the policies provide and do not put price above all else.

As far as child safety seat improvements go, buy booster and safety seats consistently given positive consumer ratings. Spending a little extra on a reliable seat improves safety for sure.

So does taking a child safety or booster seat to an approved inspection station. Qualified inspectors may be able to determine if any flaws or defects exist. They also provide installation and use instructions, which further enhances safety for adult and child alike.

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