S.C. lawmakers are considering raising the age of children allowed to ride in the front-passenger seat of a vehicle.
A House bill, in its original form, would ban children from riding in the front seat of a vehicle until they are 13 years old, more than doubling the age that a child must be now.
Under current law, children cannot ride in the front seat until they are 6, unless a vehicle does not have a rear passenger seat or all passenger seats are occupied by children under 6.
At 13 years, most children are 57 inches tall – the height that a pediatrics association deemed safe for a child to ride in a car using an adult seat belt, Whitney Tucker with the Children’s Trust of South Carolina told a House panel Thursday.
But state Rep. Neal Collins, R-Pickens, called the 13-year-old requirement “arbitrary” and said it would face certain opposition on the House floor.
Members of the House panel did not vote on the bill, agreeing instead to consider raising the age requirement for riding in the front seat to 8 years up from 6, and allowing a child to meet either a height or age requirement to ride up front.
The panel also is weighing whether to:
▪ Raise the age a child must be secured in a rear-facing car seat to 2 years old from 1
▪ Require a child at least 2 years old and up to 7 to ride in a forward-facing car seat and, later, a booster seat until the child is tall enough to use an adult seat belt in the back seat
State Reps. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, and Mia McLeod, D-Richland, are sponsoring the legislation.
The bill is an effort to update state law to reflect changes in safety regulations used by car-seat manufacturers and public safety officers trained to check for car-seat safety, Erickson said.
Under current law, S.C. law enforcement must enforce laws that reflect outdated safety standards that differ from safety recommendations often printed on child-car seats, she added.