Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. More than 2.3 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Seat belt use and proper child restraint are the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes, yet millions of adults do not wear their seat belts and fail to properly secure their children on every car ride. Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented. Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.
According to North Carolina General Statute § 20-137.1 (Child restraint systems required)
(a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 years of age shall have all such passengers properly secured in a child passenger restraint system or seat belt which meets federal standards applicable at the time of its manufacture.
(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.
A violation of this section shall have all of the following consequences:
(1) Two drivers license points shall be assessed pursuant to G.S. § 20-16.
(2) No insurance points shall be assessed.
(3) The violation shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se.
For maximum safety and to avoid being charged with failing to restrain a child, follow these recommendations provided by www.buckleupnc.org:
• Use rear facing child restraints as long as possible, but at least until age two. Most models can and should be used up to at least 30 pounds.
• Once a child is turned to face the front of the car, use a child restraint with a harness until the harness is outgrown, from 40-80 pounds, depending on the model.
• Use seatbelts for older children only when they are large enough for both the lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly.
• Use a seatbelt on every car trip to set a good example for your children.
If you have been charged for failing to restrain a child, for a seatbelt violation or if you have legal concerns about any area of law in which we practice, contact us at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential legal consultation.
By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal