For the first time since 1983, South Carolina's child car seat regulations have been updated. Although the new law, signed by Gov. Henry McMaster, increases the child ages for rear-facing and booster seat use, it doesn't alter the way these provisions are enforced.
The ultimate goal is to drive down the number of South Carolina car accidents that cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to children. Motor vehicle crashes are known to be the No. 1 cause of death for children 4 and older.
The change is in accordance with recommendations made in 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which outlined the general ages at which children could more safely graduated to the next level of car seats. These included:
- Rear-facing car seats for most infants up to 2-years-old (or until the child exceeds manufacturer height and weight specifications);
- Belt-positioning booster seats for most children through 8-years-of-age;
- Lap-and-shoulder belts for all children who have outgrown booster seats;
- Requiring all children under the age of 13 to ride in the rear of vehicles.
South Carolina's new law, which amends Sections 56-5-6410 and 56-5-6420, Code of Laws of South Carolina, increases the requirement for rear-facing seats from 1-years-old to 2-years-old and indicates that children should stay in booster seats through age 8, as opposed to the old law, which made this requirement only for children through age 6.
Car Accidents Claim Hundreds of Children Annually
Data from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) indicates that of the nearly 33,000 car accident fatalities in the U.S. every year, about 4 percent (or 1,150) are children. On top of that, an estimated 172,000 children are injured each ear in traffic crashes, a figure that has been steadily rising in recent years, even as motor vehicle technology has been improving. Part of this is because there have been more crashes overall. But it also has to do with the fact that many advancements in vehicle safety technology focus on the driver and front seat passenger, as opposed to those in the rear - which is where children usually (and should) sit.
Parents and caregivers can make sure children are safer by abiding the newest guidelines, which are in step with what traffic safety advocates have been wanting for years.
Here in South Carolina, there were more than a dozen children killed in car accidents in 2013. Safety advocates say in the last couple years, we have lost a child almost every week.
Crash testing shows that when small children remain in rear-facing seats, they are five times safer than when they are moved to a forward-facing seat.
Additionally, increasing the booster seat provision from 6 to 8 is expected to go far in ensuring these children are safe. The goal is to make certain the seat belt is properly positioned over the child so that they are adequately protected.
Proper Installation of Car Seats Imperative
Safe Kids Upstate estimates approximately 80 percent of all car seats in South Carolina are not installed or used correctly. This directly puts child's lives at risk. Free car seat inspection sites can be found at SaferCar.gov.
In cases where car accidents resulting in child injury were caused by negligence (as is often the case, with so many crashes the result of human error), our injury lawyers can help you sort through your legal options. We will work to help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and long-term costs.