South Carolina Proposal to Strengthen Child Seat Requirements in South Carolina

A proposal in the South Carolina state Senate would require children  to ride in the back seat of vehicles until they are teenagers and strengthen the use of child seats in motor vehicles.

In South Carolina, the rate of children who are injured or die as a result of motor vehicle accidents is almost twice the national rate, according to Meghan Branham of the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. More than half the children who die in car crashes in South Carolina are not protected by any kind of seat belt or restraint.

Branham worked with Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee, to draft the bill based on recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to a report by WLTX in Columbia.

South Carolina currently requires the use of car seats or booster seats for children under age 5. The bill would raise the requirement to age to 7. Also, the legislation would require rear-facing car seats for children until they reach age 2 or have outgrown a seat’s height or weight limit. Current law requires rear-facing car seats for children under age 1.

In addition, the proposal would keep kids from being in the front seat until age 13. Right now, children can’t travel in an automobile’s front seat until they turn 5.

Branham believes the changes are very important for the safety of children.

Airbags are dangerous for small children, and riding in the front seat puts them at risk of injury or even death, she said.

Moreover, Branham noted that South Carolina has more than 600 trained technicians dedicated to car seat safety, the South Carolina Radio Network reported. However, they are discovering contradictions between state law and their training to get safety certifications.

Car accidents are the primary cause of death among children. Sadly, more than half of those who are killed in South Carolina accidents were not restrained. Furthermore, 90 percent of all car seats in the states aren’t installed correctly.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a list of places that provide a free inspection of child car seats.

Sen. Alexander’s child car seat bill, S.823, was assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.