By Request: Seat Belts and Child Seats

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In a “By Request” post, I’ll be addressing a questions posed to me by a reader, a client, or in this case, my lovely and talented wife, Emily.  Emily is the director of a preschool and this issue is close to her heart.  So to clear up any confusion, here is the law in North Carolina about seat belts and child seats:

§ 20‑135.2A.  Seat belt use mandatory.

(a)       …[E]ach occupant of a motor vehicle manufactured with seat belts shall have a seatbelt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion on a street or highway in this State.

[Some exceptions: medical condition, mail carrier, garbage truck, rear seats of motor home…]

(e)       Any driver or front seat passenger who fails to wear a seat belt as required by this section shall have committed an infraction and shall pay a penalty of twenty‑five dollars ($25.00) plus court costs in the sum of seventy‑five dollars ($75.00). Any rear seat occupant of a vehicle who fails to wear a seat belt as required by this section shall have committed an infraction and shall pay a penalty of ten dollars ($10.00) and no court costs.

So basically, if you’re in a moving car, you must wear a seatbelt.  Unless you’re a kid and need to be in a child seat:

§ 20‑137.1.  Child restraint systems required.

(a1)     A child less than eight years of age and less than 80 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a weight‑appropriate child passenger restraint system. In vehicles equipped with an active passenger‑side front air bag, if the vehicle has a rear seat, a child less than five years of age and less than 40 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a rear seat, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with air bags. If no seating position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure the weight‑appropriate child passenger restraint system is available, a child less than eight years of age and between 40 and 80 pounds may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only.

To determine if the seat is “weight-appropriate” for your child, always follow the owner’s manual with your seat (which will follow the federal guidelines).  We recommend that you not graduate your child to a “booster” until their weight and height require it.

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