CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Many children are advanced to a new car seat stage before they are truly ready, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS).

Car seats and booster seats should be used for passengers who are too small to get the full safety benefits of adults seat belts, and are designed to keep children close to their original seating position in the event of a crash, according to the SCDPS website.

For these protective seats to work properly, though, the right seat must be selected for the child’s height, weight and developmental levels.

An infant under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle until the child exceeds the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.

A child who is at least two years old, or who has outgrown the manufacturer’s height and weight limits while under the age of two, must be secured in a forward-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.

After that, children who are at least four who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat must use a booster seat — and still stay in the back seat of the vehicle. Lap and shoulder belts must be used, SCDPS said.

Once a child turns eight or grows to be at least 57 inches tall, they can use an adult safety belt — that is, only if the child can be properly secured by that belt.

An adult safety belt fits properly if:

  • It fits across the child’s thighs and hips, and not across the abdomen
  • It crosses the center of a child’s chest and not the neck
  • The child is able to sit with their back straight against the back cushion with their knees bent over the seat’s edge without slouching
Image courtesy of SCDPS

For more information from SCDPS on child passenger safety, click here.