N.C. Amends Child Seat Belt Law

March 27, 2007

The General Assembly in Raleigh agreed last week to remove a 25-year-old exception to the state’s child safety seat law after federal regulators said it would keep them from giving North Carolina a $1 million grant.

The bill, which in now on Gov. Mike Easley’s desk, eliminates the provision allowing drivers to remove young children from their car safety seats “when the child’s personal needs are being attended to.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the state in August that the exemption would prevent it from receiving the grant money, used to purchase safety seats for low-income families and train police and others about the proper use of the seats.

“The only way to get this extremely important grant is to remove this provision from our law,” said Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland, before the Senate approved the change by a vote of 41-4.

The House approved the same measure despite complaints from some members that deleting the provision placed an unnecessary constraint on parent-drivers.

The current law requires children younger than 8 years old and weighing less than 80 pounds to use safety seats while riding in a vehicle.

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