Choosing the Right Car Seat
Note: This was featured as part of our Wednesday segment on Charleston’s 105.5 The Bridge with Box in the Morning. You can catch us every Wednesday morning at 8:50 am ET for the latest law tips and legal news. You can listen to the segment below:
Every day, four children die and 490 are injured in car accidents in America. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged 2-14. In South Carolina, a child dies every week from a preventable injury resulting from a vehicular collision.
However, proper car seat restraints reduce fatalities by 70 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Aware of the life-saving potential of car seats, South Carolina legislatures ratified the Child Passenger Safety Law in May.
When choosing a car seat for your precious little one, pay attention not just to his or her age, but also height and weight.
Manufacturers of car seats will provide a recommended age, height, and weight for their products, but the S.C. law mandates overall guidelines for proper usage.
Children less than 20 lbs and under two years old must sit in rear-facing car seats, while a forward-facing seat is ideal for children between two and five years old and weighing 20 to 40 lbs.
Rear-facing seats offer critical protection of the head, neck, and spine. On average, these restraints are five times safer than their forward-facing counterparts. A tether minimizes the impact from a crash and makes forward-facing restraints safer by securing the top of the seat.
Children over five can graduate to a booster seat as long as their weight is between 40 and 80 lbs.
Regardless of age, children can ride in a car without a booster seat if their weight is greater than 80 lbs. However, the new law stipulates that the lap belt must fit across a their hips and thighs, not the abdomen. Make sure that the shoulder belt rests across the chest, not the neck.
This is due to the fact that many adults and children have been hospitalized after suffering blunt abdominal trauma from an ill-fitting seat belt.
Safe Kids Upstate estimates that at least 80 percent of car seats in Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens Counties are improperly installed or used. To give your child the safest ride possible, make sure that his or her seat meets the South Carolina regulations and is fastened correctly.