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Child Restraint Laws in Tennessee

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Compared to some states, child restraint laws in Tennessee are pretty strict -- but for good reason. Car seats and booster seats have been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a car accident.

The following is an overview of the child restraint laws in Tennessee. Visit the State of Tennessee website for updates and amendments.

Infants

  • Infants under one year of age (and of any weight) must be restrained in a rear-facing car seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. The seat should be used in the backseat of the vehicle, if possible.
  • Babies and children of any age who are below 20 pounds must also be restrained in a rear-facing car seat and in the backseat, if possible.

Toddlers

  • Children age 1, 2, and 3 who weigh more than 20 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing car seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. The seat should be used in the backseat of the vehicle, if possible.

Children

  • Children age 4 through 8 who are shorter than 4'9" must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. The seat should be used in the backseat of the vehicle, if possible.
  • Children who are older than age 8 but still shorter than 4'9" must also use a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • Children age nine 9 through 12 who are 4'9" or taller must be secured in the vehicle's seat belt, in the back seat, if possible.
  • Children who are under 9 years of age but who are 4'9" or taller must also use the vehicle's seat belt.

Teenagers

  • Teenagers age 13 through 15 must be secured in the vehicle's seat belt.

Additional Information

  • The driver of a car is legally responsible to see that all children in the car are properly restrained. Additionally, a parent who is present in the car but not driving is also legally responsible.
  • Car seats that are adapted for medical conditions are permitted but the doctor's prescription for the car seat must be kept in the car at all times.
  • It is estimated that as many as 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly. You can have your car seats inspected free of charge to make sure they are installed properly by visiting a Child Safety Seat Inspection location.

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