By Jedidiah McKeehan

I have to think it is only a good thing that the child seatbelt laws in place are more strict than when I was a child.

I recall riding in truck beds as a child. That is crazy to think about children doing that now.

Today, it seems children must be in a protective seat until they reach high school!

What does Tennessee law actually say regarding the seatbelts and car seats to be used for children?

The answers are in Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-9-602. It is a lengthy law and gives different criteria for the seat restraints for children based on their age and weight.

Without getting into the details of the law, here is a quick cheat sheet (that is current as of today, but who knows when it may be updated again):

Less than 1 year old or less than 20lbs – has to be in the back seat in a rear-facing car seat

1 year old to 3 years old and weighing more than 20lbs – has to be in the back seat in a forward-facing car seat

4 years old to 8 years old and less than 4 feet, 9 inches in height – has to be in the back seat in a booster seat

9 years old to 12 years old and over 4 feet, 9 inches in height – recommended being placed in the back seat

13 years old – end of recommendations and restrictions other than the requirement to have the child wear a seat belt

The statute has several other interesting discussion points. One such is the requirement that any health facility where a child is born must tell the parents that seat belts for children are required by law and give parents a brochure on such from the department of safety.

These restrictions may seem intense, over the top, or going too far, to some, but I think we can all agree it’s a good thing to keep children safe while they are riding in vehicles.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.