HOUSTON – Question: Nicholas, our viewer, says he uses rideshare apps to get around town and lately, he’s dealt with the issue of seat covers blocking access to use the seat belt inside the vehicle and feels unsafe.
Answer: Many seat covers do have outlets for access to the vehicle’s seat belt, but many do not. We reached out to Texas Department of Public Safety, and I learned while ride-share companies get an exception on child safety seats, there are zero exceptions on safety belts. Passengers must wear them. Everyone in a taxi or ride share should have access to a seat belt and should be wearing it wherever they sit in the vehicle.
Here’s what’s interesting: Passengers can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, as long as they are at least 15 years of age. The driver can also get a ticket if the passenger is younger than 17 and not buckled up. This is because the passenger is still considered a child, and the driver of a vehicle must require them to wear a seat belt. But if the rider is 17 years or older and not wearing a seat belt, according to Texas DPS, the driver will not be cited. At this time, there is no law against seat covers blocking access to seat belts per se.