Young children can face significant risks in motor vehicle accidents if they are not properly restrained. There are already laws in place in South Carolina imposing certain requirements for using equipment aimed at keeping young children safe in the event of car accidents.
Some lawmakers, however, do not believe the current roles go far enough to protect vulnerable young children. WNCN reports a bill has been introduced by lawmakers to try to impose stricter regulations and new rules on child safety protection in vehicles.
Could New Rules Make Children Safer During Car Accidents?
The new South Carolina bill which has been proposed got a hearing on Wednesday by a South Carolina House subcommittee. The bill would make several important changes to current laws in the state if it ends up being passed by the legislature.
One big change the bill would make is to mandate infants ride in rear-facing car seats for a longer period of time. Right now, children are required to ride in rear-facing car seats only until they are one years old. The bill proposes to change this to require children to ride in rear-facing seats until they are two.
Another change would require children over the age of two but under the age of eight to be kept in booster seats. Under the current law, children must only sit in forward-facing car seats or booster seats until they are six. Children six and over are also permitted to sit in the front seat of cars under the current law. Proposed changes in the new bill would keep children in the back seat until they turn 13.
A Columbia, South Carolina pediatrician who is the immediate past president of the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics testified before the house subcommittee on the bill. She spoke in favor of changing the current law, including: "Booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury for children ages 4 to 8 by 45 percent. Remaining in the rear seat reduces the risk of injury for children less than 13 years by 40 to 70 percent. These are not opinions. These are facts."
She also expressed concerns about the current laws in the state of South Carolina. The problem is, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises doctors to tell parents to use the car seat guidelines which are in the new bill and which would keep kids in rear-facing car seats until at least aged one. The problem is, some parents have been ticketed for using the rear-facing seats for older kids since state law requires these seats only until their first birthdays.
Some lawmakers are expressing concern the 13-year age limit is too old to force kids into the back seat. However, research has shown there is a difference in safety risks from the front seat to the back seat until the child is 13. Because of the difference of opinion on this issue, the house subcommittee voted to table the bill until further research is done on how to decide on an age limit for keeping kids in the back seat.