When I was young, I can remember sitting in the car’s front seat without a seatbelt. I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap and him letting me drive. While those may be good memories, I’m just lucky I’m still here to write about them. When I was about six years old, my Mom rear-ended a car, and I ended up on the floorboard. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt. But also, thankfully, there are now laws in place to protect infants and children from this exact scenario.
In North Carolina, child restraints (and no, not those harnesses attached to leashes) are governed by North Carolina General Statute 20-137.1. It is required that anyone under the age of 16 is properly secured in a car seat or seat belt. Anyone under the age of 8 that weighs less than 80 pounds must also be in a weight-appropriate car seat, and anyone less than five years old and weighs less than 40 pounds must be in a rear seat unless the car seat is designed for use with airbags. However, buckleupnc.org makes it clear that these laws are the minimum requirements as to what should be done to keep your child safe.
The Centers for Disease Control states that using a car seat can be as much as 82% safer and reduces the risk of injury versus a seat belt alone.
To underscore the importance of the proper use of child safety restraints, I want to tell you a true story of a prior case that I handled.* A young couple and their infant daughter were traveling on Independence Boulevard in Charlotte near the Bojangles Coliseum. The infant was in a properly secured car seat, rear-facing in the back seat. Suddenly, and without warning, a tractor-trailer came into their lane, sending their car into the guardrail. The car overturned several times, and the car seat was actually ejected from the vehicle. However, the baby girl was snug and secure in her car seat and did not sustain so much as a scratch.
To help ensure that you have a properly secured car seat, Mecklenburg County offers several permanent checking stations where you can go and have the installation checked so you can feel confident that it has been done properly. The locations and times for the permanent checking stations can also be found at buckleupnc.org.
At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, PC, we don’t ever want to see your child hurt as the result of someone else’s negligence. But if they are, don’t hesitate to call our Charlotte car accident attorneys to see if we can help.
*Details not affecting the outcome have been changed to protect the clients’ identities.