One child under seventeen loses their life in South Carolina each week, and the state’s motor vehicle death rate is almost twice the national average.
Governor Henry McMaster signed H.3864, a revised bill on child passenger restraint, on May 19. The new regulations apply to children 8 and under (formerly 5 and under) and state the following:
REAR-FACING CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEM
Children under two years of age must be secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system until the child turns two years or exceeds the manufacturer’s height or weight limit of the child restraint system.
FORWARD-FACING WITH A HARNESS
Children at least two years of age or a child under two years of age who has outgrown their rear-facing child passenger restraint system must be secured in a forward-facing child passenger restraint system with a harness in a rear passenger seat of the vehicle until the child exceeds the highest height or weight requirements of the forward-facing child passenger restraint system.
BELT-POSITIONING BOOSTER SEAT
A child at least four years of age who has outgrown his forward-facing child passenger restraint system must be secured by a belt-positioning booster seat in a rear seat of the vehicle until he can meet the height and fit requirements for an adult safety seat belt as described below. The belt-positioning booster seat must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. A booster seat must not be used with a lap belt alone.
ADULT SAFETY BELT
A child at least eight years of age or at least fifty-seven inches, or 4 feet 9 inches tall may be restrained by an adult safety seat belt if the child can be secured properly by an adult safety seat belt. A child is properly secured by an adult safety seat belt if:
(a) the lap belt fits across the child’s thighs and hips and not across the abdomen; (b) the shoulder belt crosses the center of the child’s chest and not the neck; and (c) the child is able to sit with his back straight against the vehicle seat back cushion with his knees bent over the vehicle’s seat edge without slouching.
Children with substantiated medical needs who are unable to be transported in a standard child passenger safety restraint system may be transported in a standard child passenger safety restraint system designed for their medical needs.
Additionally, a child under 8 can be transported in the front seat IF all of the rear seats are occupied by other children under 8, or if the motor vehicle lacks a rear passenger seat.
Municipalities in the Golden Strip have trained professionals that can help parents or guardians ensure that their car seats are properly installed and that state requirements are met:
Other locations are available across Greenville County. SafeKids Upstate has a list and resources for parents online.
The new law also states that properly installed safety seats can reduce infant fatalities by 71% and toddler fatalities by 54%, and the updated regulations aim to save even more children in the palmetto state.