The new child car seat law in South Carolina now is up to pace with what pediatricians and traffic safety experts have been recommending for years, giving hope that we'll see child car accident deaths fall in the coming years.
The new law, which will amend S.C.56-5-6410 and 56-5-6420, requires children under 2-years-old to be properly secured in a rear facing car seat until the child exceeds the height or weigh limit allowed by the manufacturer of that car seat. This new provision will make South Carolina one of just five states to require children under 2 to remain in rear-facing car seats, something that has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for many years.
The group notes that in all modern crash tests, it's been proven children are exponentially safer in rear-facing seats, and are five times more likely to survive a crash than those in forward-facing seats.
The law also changes the provision that stipulates when children can legally ride in children should still ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. The new law stipulates children should ride in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years of age or so long as they are shorter than 57 inches. Even if the child reaches the age of 8, parents and caregivers should make certain the regular seat belt properly fits them before doing away with the booster seat. That means they need to be certain the seat belt is situated squarely on their shoulder and fits snugly on their hips. Their knees, meanwhile, should fold comfortably over the front seat. Prior to this law, the age at which kids could make the transition was 6.
Law Expected to Save Lives
Our Columbia car accident attorneys recognize that our roads are not nearly as safe as we would wish for them to be, which is why parents must do everything in their power to protect their children from injuries that are preventable. One non-profit, speaking recently to The Greenville News on the issue, opined 8 in 10 car seats in this state are not properly installed or used the correct way.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that of the nearly 33,000 people who die in crashes every year, approximately 4 percent are children under 14. That's about 1,150 children. More than a dozen of those every year are in South Carolina. On top of that, another 172,000 suffer serious injuries requiring emergency medical treatment. That breaks down to three children who die and another 470 who are injured every day in car accidents across the country.
Child safety seats lower the risk of deadly injury by about 70 percent for babies and 55 percent for toddlers - but that assumes they are installed and used the right way. Risk for children 5 and older was reduced by 45 percent when they used appropriate restraints, according to federal data.
Checking for Proper Car Seat Installation
If you are unsure whether your child's car seat is installed properly in your vehicle, you can have it checked for free at qualified inspection sites, which you can find by visiting SaferCar.gov.