Safety Laws in Tennessee

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Child Car Seat Laws

  • All kids weighing less than 20 lbs or younger than 1 year must ride in a properly secured child passenger restraint system facing in rear side of the vehicle.
  • All kids weighing more than 20 lbs or aged between 1 and 3 years old must ride in an approved forward-facing child passenger restraint system.
  • All kids between 4 years old and 8 years old or shorter than 4 ft 9 inches must ride in an approved belt-positioning booster seat system.

All kids who exceed these limits must wear a seat belt. You can shop for a child car seat online. Before ordering your seat, consider your child’s age, weight and height. For more information on child safety seats, visit any local child passenger safety inspection location. You can also call any Tennessee Department of Safety officer.

Seat Belts

Any adult riding in front seat of the vehicle must be properly secured by a seat belt. They must also use the lap and shoulder belts if the vehicle is fitted with them. All kids exceeding the child safety seat limits must also follow the above seat belt rules. It is the responsibility of a driver to ensure that child safety belt and seat belt rules are followed by all passengers before starting his or her engine. Drivers who fail to ensure compliance with these rules are nailed with a fine, ticket or points on the driver’s license. However, all passengers aged 16 years old or older with a driving license are responsible for their own conduct while riding in a vehicle. If they violate the above law, they will be slapped with a fine or ticket. Law enforcement officers are mandated to pull over any vehicle whose driver and passengers don’t comply with the seat belt or safety belt laws. The state provides a FAQ page where you can get answers to commonly asked questions about child safety seat and seat belt.

Cell Phones

All drivers holding intermediate licenses or learner’s permit are not allowed to use hand-held or hands-free cell phones or any other type of communication device while operating a vehicle. The cell phone law also bans all drivers, regardless of age and license status, from sending or reading text messages while driving. Also, all drivers operating a school bus are banned from using a cell phone while driving, unless it is an emergency.


Vehicle’s headlights must be turned on between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise, and whenever visibility is less than 1000 feet ahead. Additionally, you must turn on headlights whenever you use windshield wipers. You should not use high beams whenever an approaching vehicle or the vehicle ahead of you is within 500 feet.


All drivers operating a moped, motorcycle or a scooter must wear an approved helmet. Additionally, they must wear protective gears unless the cycle is fitted with a windshield.

Reporting an Unsafe Driver

Tennessee doesn’t have a special number to report drunk or unsafe drivers. However, if you suspect a drunk or unsafe driver or any highway emergency, contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol. You can do so by dialing 847 or THP on your phone.

Unattended Children

If you knowingly leave a kid younger than 7 years old unattended in a car during extreme weather conditions, you will be charged with a class B misdemeanor. If you are found guilty, you will be slapped with a $200 fine. The person supervising a child in a vehicle must be at least 13 years old.