Local News

Car Seat Age, Weight Requirements Could Increase In N.C.

Posted July 21, 2004

— A bill before Gov. Mike Easley could keep children secured in car seats in a lot longer.

The state General Assembly passed new rules about child safety seats. The bill's sponsors say a lot of children outgrow their car seats, but still are not big enough to fit into adult-sized seat belts. They say that can be a dangerous situation.

Research shows car seats can save lives. Some see proof every day.

"In a lot of wrecks we go to, a child safety seat has reduced the risk of death to that child," said Lt. Tracey Jernigan of the Cary Police Department. "The longer those restraint devices are used, the better it is to protect the child."

A plan to raise the age and weight requirements is raising some eyebrows.

Under the bill, any child up to 8 years old and 80 pounds would have to use a car safety seat. Under the current law, the requirement is 5 years old and 40 pounds.

"I think it's overzealous and more than is necessary," parent Noelle Lanham said. "Well, they would make adults safer, too. There reaches a point where its just over the top."

Proponents say keeping their kids safe is worth it.

"Children that age think they're big enough, but if they get involved in a car wreck, any precautions you can take is worth it," parent Yvette Rhinehardt said.

Easley says he has not reviewed the bill and would not say whether he will sign it or not.

If the bill is signed into law, the new requirements would take effect next year. It suggests a $25 fine plus two points on a driver's license for those who fail to restrain children properly. Those who can later prove they have the required car seats will not be convicted.



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