Local News

Drivers May Face License Points For Failure To Buckle Up Children

Posted June 6, 2000

— North Carolina law states children under 16 must be in a safety seat or wear their seat belts. Violators face a $25 fine, but some lawmakers say the penalty should be stiffer. They want to punish the parents who do not buckle up their children.

"We are talking about children, children who are passengers in vehicles and how they are not being properly restrained," says Rep. Wayne Goodwin, D-Rockingham.

According to theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Infants from birth to 1 year who weigh up to 22 pounds should use a rear facing car seat.
  • Toddlers over 1 year of age who weigh 20 to 40 pounds can use front-facing car seats.
  • Preschoolers and children who weigh 40 to 80 pounds should use booster seats.

    The question beforestate lawmakersis whether they can legislate parental protection. A House committee approved a bill Tuesday which would give two points to drivers who do not buckle up their children.

    Currently, violators who fail to buckle up their children receive a $25 fine and zero points. Violators who litter on the highway face an $100 fine and one point.

    "We are currently telling our children that it's worse to throw a piece of paper out of a car window than to put their lives at risk," says Jane Pinsky ofAAA Carolinas.

    The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force believes the law would help to save the lives of at least 50 children a year. However, some lawmakers say the law cannot be used to make parents more responsible.

    "I think that is a fallacy of reasoning to say that you can make irresponsible people responsible," says Rep. Cary Allred, R-Burlington. "I don't think this bill is going to have any significant effect on the number of child fatalities."

    The House and Senate subcommittees have looked at the bill. They plan to send the bill to the full House and Senate for a vote.

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