Using car seats has dramatically reduced harm to children involved in crashes. Many parents—especially new ones—have questions about how to choose the right car seat and what type of seat to use as children grow.
In South Carolina, drivers are required to secure children under 8 in a child seat appropriate to their age and size. The S.C. Department of Public Safety provides a series of videos that show you how to choose and install car seats, so you keep children safe and comply with state law.
Here are some guidelines to help everyone driving with a child on board:
The back seat is the safest place for children of every age.
South Carolina law permits children who are age 8 and over, or who are over 57 inches tall, to ride in the front seat if they’re wearing a proper seatbelt. But safety experts agree that children under 13 should be riding in the back seat.
Children age 2 and under must be in a rear facing car seat, secured in the rear seat of the vehicle.
When an infant outgrows their first child seat, parents should choose a convertible seat to replace it, allowing the seat to be installed in the rear-facing position until the child is two years old.
A safe seat doesn’t have to be the most expensive one.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires all car seats on the market to meet the same safety standards.
When buying a car seat, make sure it fits both your child AND your vehicle.
One way to do that is to use the NHTSA’s car seat finder. You might also want to check your vehicle owner’s manual and measure the space you have in your back seat.
Keep a child in the most protective car seat for as long as possible.
As children grow, they’ll move from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, then to a booster. Have children use the seat as long as the child fits within manufacturer height and weight requirements.
Install the seat correctly—and consider having it inspected by an expert near you.
Your seat needs to be positioned properly and fully secured in order to protect a child in an accident. South Carolina DHEC can connect you with a certified child safety seat technician in your area. You can also check for seat safety ratings and recalls.
Need more information?
For a complete guide to child safety seats, the NHTSA is a great resource.
The S.C. Department of Public Safety provides easy-to-follow explanations of state child safety seat laws in both English and Spanish.
This information is compiled from other sources. For more information, please refer to DHEC's car seat safety program, SC Department of Public Safety, or NHTSA.