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North Carolina Seat Belt Laws

North Carolina’s seat belt laws were updated during the 2005 and 2006 sessions of the NC General Assembly.  The current NC Seat Belt law has been in effect since December 1, 2006.

All drivers and passengers in North Carolina vehicles must wear seat belts.  Unlike some states, North Carolina requires that back seat passengers be belted in as well as front seat passengers.

The law applies to almost all vehicles.  Seat belts are required to be worn in any vehicle that the federal government requires to have a seat belt.  This includes all cars, light trucks, and vans.  The few exceptions to this rule are:

·          Vehicles that are not required to have seat belts.  Any car made before 1968 or any light truck or van made before 1972 fits this description.

·          Rural letter carriers and newspaper carriers who are performing duties

·          Frequently stopping delivery vehicles (but only if the driver is going less than 20 m.p.h.

·          Any vehicle with a “Farm” license plate that is being used for agricultural purposes

·          Anyone in a motor home, except for the driver and front seat passenger

Child Passenger Seat Belt Laws

Children under the age of 8 and weighing less than 80 pounds must be restrained in a child restraint device. 

Children who are over the age of 8 or over 80 pounds (whichever comes first) may use a regular seat belt. 

Children who weigh less than 40 pounds and are under the age of 5 must be seated in the rear seat in any car that has a passenger side air bag and a rear seat.  The passenger side air bag can be incredibly dangerous for young children, as it can explode with a force great enough to snap a child’s neck.

Legal Standards are “Minimal”

Even Buckle Up, North Carolina recognizes that the legal standards for NC are probably deficient and that you should take further steps in ensuring your child’s safety.  They make the following recommendations:

·          Children under the age of one OR less than 20 pounds should ride in rear-facing infant seats.

·          Children at least one year old who also weigh at least 20 pounds should ride in front-facing seats with a full harness

·          Children should switch from the full harness seat to a belt-positioning seat when the full harness seat is outgrown.  They should continue riding in the belt-positioning seat until they can ride in a car without the booster seat.