In the state of South Carolina, all children under the age of eight must be secured in either a car seat or booster seat, and this includes having a proper car seat and making sure it is installed correctly and worn properly. In 2017, the state revised their laws to make them even stricter regarding children who are riding in a moving vehicle, and this includes all types of cars and trucks. Simply put, the driver and all passengers in a moving vehicle are required to be in some type of restraint system, such as car seats or seatbelts, the entire time.
The South Carolina car seat laws now in effect regarding rear-facing car seats is in response to the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They were put into place to make very young children a lot more secure while riding in a vehicle, and they apply to recreational vehicles and vans, as well as all other types of moving vehicles.
Laws for Rear-Facing Car Seats
The state of South Carolina recommends that all babies two and under be secured in a rear-facing car seat whenever they’re in a moving vehicle. You must also have an approved car seat, which means following the height and weight recommendations made by the manufacturer. Although it is not required by law to keep babies two and under in one of these seats, it is agreed that this is the safest way to protect babies in the event of a crash.
Once your baby reaches age two or the weight limit recommended in the owner’s manual, which is usually 20 to 30 pounds, you can start using a front-facing car seat. The important thing to remember is to follow the guidelines recommended by your particular brand of car seat. Each car seat is different, so it’s best to adhere to the suggestions listed by that particular maker.
South Carolina Laws for Front-Facing Car Seats
At around two years of age or roughly 20 to 30 pounds, your child is usually ready for a front-facing car seat. It must be properly installed and have a harness on it, preferably a five-point harness system, because this provides the child with the most amount of safety. Once again, keeping your child in this front-facing car seat until he or she reaches the maximum height or weight recommended by the manufacturer is the smartest move on your part.
Once your child outgrows a front-facing car seat, you can move up to a booster seat. This usually happens once they reach the age of four or five, depending on their size.
South Carolina State Laws for Booster Seats
In South Carolina, booster seats must be secured with a lap and shoulder belt, never just a lap belt. The shoulder belt must fit snugly against the child’s chest area, while the lap belt must be secure over the thigh and hip area, never the abdomen. According to the law, children must remain in booster seats until they are at least 57 inches tall (4’9”) or at least eight years old. The state also recommends one of the two main types of booster seats, which are:
- Full-back booster seats, which protect the head and neck area and should be chosen when your vehicle has no proper headrests
- Backless booster seats, which should only be used if your vehicle has the right type of headrests
The child’s head and neck area must be protected, so choosing a booster seat based on the type of headrests you have in your vehicle is crucial to the child’s safety. Furthermore, children also need the maturity to sit with their backs against the back of the vehicle seat without being too fidgety. If this doesn’t apply to your child, he or she may not be quite ready for a booster seat and, therefore, should continue using a front-facing car seat.
Height and Weight Requirements
If you follow the height and weight recommendations made by the manufacturer of the car seat, your child will be safe every time. The only real requirement the state has is that once children reach 4’9” in height, they are ready to use a standard seatbelt. However, seatbelts should always be worn properly, and they should be used every time the child is in a moving vehicle of any type.
Children who wear seatbelts should also be able to sit still long enough for the trip to take place, and they should be able to sit with their feet flat on the floor the entire time. If they are unable to do these things, or if you notice the child isn’t secured properly and comfortably, it is best to go back to using a front-facing car seat until he or she is more ready for standard seatbelt use.
South Carolina State Laws for Seatbelts
Like other states, the state of South Carolina requires that everyone be secured in a car or booster seat or in seatbelts any time they are in a moving vehicle. They also recommend that children under the age of 13 be in the rear seat of the vehicle and never the front seat, unless there is no other choice. In fact, the first offense of not wearing a seatbelt or keeping young people buckled up can be as high as $50, and seat belt laws are primary laws in South Carolina, which means the authorities can stop you and fine you just for the fact that you’re not properly buckled up.
The state can also fine a driver if anyone in the vehicle, especially a young person or baby, is not buckled up properly. Certain vehicles, however, are exempt from these laws, but they are limited to vehicles such as postal vehicles, buses, taxicabs, and some farm vehicles.
The state also makes other recommendations to keep children safer. For instance, any child over the age of eight can sit in the front seat if all of the back seats are filled with children under the age of eight. In this instance, it is highly recommended that you deactivate the airbag so that it doesn’t harm your child – or worse – in the case of an accident.