No matter how much of a safe driver you are, you can still end up in an accident.
This is why it’s important to keep children in a safety restraint system.
And this is why the State of North Carolina implements car seat laws.
Today, we’re going to talk about the North Carolina car seat law and its penalties, as well as the seat belt law for adults. With this, you’ll know how to keep everyone safe.
So buckle up and let’s go!
Car Seat Laws in North Carolina
In North Carolina, children under 16 years old are required to be in the proper car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt.
To be specific:
- Children below 4 years old should be in a child restraint system (either a rear-facing or front-facing car seat).
- Children 4-8 years old and weighing at least 40 pounds should be in a correctly fitted booster seat.
- Children 8-16 years old and weighing more than 80 pounds should wear a properly fitted seat belt, regardless if they sit in the front or back.
NOTE: Because of this law, 16-year-olds and below are not allowed to ride in open cargo areas, such as the open bed of a pickup truck.
To give you an idea, here is a timeline for safety restraint systems for children:
- Use a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible or until the child reaches the age and weight limit of the seat as described by the manufacturer.
- Use a front-facing seat until the seat belt harness can properly fit the child OR if the child reaches the limitations of the front-facing seat.
- When the child outgrows the front-facing seat, they can transfer to a booster seat. This is usually when they are 4-8 years old and weigh 40 pounds and more.
- When a child reaches 8 years, is over 80 pounds, and can properly fit a seat belt, you can remove the booster seat.
Remember, a seat belt should fit snugly on the child. If it’s loose and the shoulder strap does not fall across the shoulders and chest, then it’s best if you continue using a booster seat.
Car Seat Penalties in North Carolina
Drivers are held responsible for the safety of all children riding in their vehicles. If a child is seen not using the proper safety restraint system, the driver will be fined up to $25 per offense.
Know that the car seat laws in North Carolina are primary enforcement. This means that you can get pulled over if a law enforcement officer sees your child unrestrained in a moving vehicle.
Seat Belt Law in North Carolina
In North Carolina, all passengers are required to wear a seat belt, regardless of where they sit – front or back.
Not only that, but they are required to wear seat belts PROPERLY.
The proper way to wear a seat belt is to have the shoulder belt snugly across your chest and just in front of the breastbone. The lap belt should be under the abdomen, across the hips.
Both these belts work together. If you remove the one, the other won’t be as effective.
Seat Belt Exemptions in North Carolina
There are cases when you are exempted from North Carolina’s seat belt law. These are:
- If the vehicle was manufactured before 1968 or the truck/van was manufactured before 1972.
- If there is a proven and documented illness or mental phobia that prevents the use of seat belts.
- Rural carriers and newspaper carriers on duty.
- Any vehicle that doesn’t need seat belts by law, such as a school bus.
- The driver or passenger frequently leaves a vehicle to deliver goods and property, while the vehicle’s speed in between these stops does not exceed 20 mph.
- Farm or commercial vehicles used for agricultural purposes.
- The vehicle is a motor home. Only the driver and front passenger seat are required to wear seat belts.
- In situations where there are no more seat belts available since it is all occupied.
Seat Belt Penalties in North Carolina
If you are caught violating the seat belt law, you are fined $25.50. This doesn’t include the court fees – $147.50 in a district court and $154.50 in a superior court.
Moreover, North Carolina is one of the states that treat a seat belt violation as a first offense. This means that if you are spotted not wearing a seatbelt, a law enforcement officer can pull you over and give you a ticket.
NOTE: For backseat passengers above 16 years old, the seat belt law is only a secondary offense.
However, there are no points given when you are caught without a seatbelt.
Children and Adult Safety Points
The State of North Carolina gives both children and adult safety points.
What are these?
Well, it is not law, but a recommendation to stay as safe as possible.
Here are the recommendations you need to know about using vehicle safety restraint systems:
- Children 12 and below should always be buckled up and placed in a rear seat.
- Infants placed in a rear-facing car seat should never be in the front seat of a vehicle, even if the vehicle has an airbag.
- Airbags are only supplemental to the safety of passengers. It is not enough to rely on them to reduce the impact of a collision. So don’t think that, if you have airbags, you can avoid wearing a seat belt.
- The driver and the front passenger should move the seats as far back as possible. This is so, in case of a strong collision, they can avoid hitting their heads.
And that was the North Carolina car seat laws, as well as the seat belt law.
If you want to reduce the impact of a collision…
If you want to keep you, your passengers, and especially your children as safe as possible…
And if you want to avoid the penalties…
Always use the proper safety restraint system.
Never think that it’s useless.
Remember, these systems can save lives.
It’s always best to be a responsible and safe parent and driver!