By Sydney Amodio
South Carolina has updated its child safety seat law for the first time since 1983. The new law requires children to be in a rear-facing child seat until they are two years old or exceed the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the child seat.
The child must be in a 5-point harness until they outgrow the size limits of the child seat. Children must be in a booster seat until they are eight years old or 57 inches tall. They may not sit in the vehicle’s front seat until they are eight years old as opposed to six in the previous law.
A child at least two years old or under two who has outgrown their rear-facing seat must be in a forward-facing seat until they become four years old or exceed the highest height or weight requirements. They are then to be in a booster seat until they meet the requirements to be restrained by an adult safety seat belt. The law also specifies criteria to be met for the child to be properly secured by an adult seat belt.
The new law reflects recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, although the AAP recommends children remain in the vehicle’s back seat until they are 13 years old rather than eight.
“There’s extra protection in the rear seats of the vehicle because of the air bag which deploys at 200 mph,” said Katrin Bost who works with Children’s Trust of South Carolina. A large proponent of the law, Bost believes it is doing children in the state a great service.
There are more than 80 car seat inspection stations in South Carolina to aid parents in ensuring they comply with the new law and that their children’s car seats are set up correctly.
“I’ve seen two wrecks where the car was upside down and the child was perfectly fine because the child seat was installed properly,” Irmo Fire Marshal Brain Haley said.
The Irmo Fire Department will check car seats for free if parents call to make an appointment. Parents can visit safercar.gov for more information.
Sydney Amodio is a junior mass communication major at Winthrop University pursuing a degree in journalism and is director of journalistic studies at Linc,inc.