The seat belt laws in South Carolina and throughout the United States have changed a lot over the years. There are plenty of people around today who still remember when children didn’t have to be buckled, much less placed in child safety restraint seats. There was a time when half a dozen kids could climb into one back seat with the oldest child holding the smallest child in their lap. Then, seat belts came along and eventually became a legally enforceable requirement.
These changes were not without resistance. Many people felt that seat belts were unsafe, that they could trap you in a vehicle that was on fire or worse. There were anecdotal stories of people whose lives were saved by the fact that they were thrown from a vehicle before it caught fire or before it rolled for the second or third time. There were stories about people who had been killed because the seat belt trapped them inside. While all of these stories may have some claim to truth and there are situations where, by pure chance, not wearing a seat belt may have saved someone’s life, the reality is that far more lives are saved by seat belts than are taken.
To really understand this, let’s look at the story of a man who went skydiving with a malfunctioning parachute. The chute didn’t open, yet somehow, miraculously, the man survived. If you think that this is a good reason and justification for jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, then you are thinking along the same lines as someone who chooses not to wear a seat belt. All evidence shows that seat belts save lives, and the odd miracle here and there does not discount this fact.
Yet, because so many people still follow the same line of thinking as someone who would jump from an airplane without a parachute, there are laws in place to protect us by enforcing the use of seat belts and child safety seats. Today, we’ll look at how seat belt laws are enforced in Columbia, South Carolina.
Columbia, South Carolina, Seat Belt Laws are Primary Enforcement Laws
There are two different terms that are associated with seat belt laws throughout the US and these are primary enforcement laws and secondary enforcement laws. A secondary enforcement law is one that a police officer cannot pull you over for unless he or she also has another good cause. For instance, a traffic officer could see you not wearing a seatbelt, but they could not pull you over just for that. However, if they see that your taillight is out or you are speeding, then they could pull you over for these reasons and also cite you for not wearing a seat belt. Meanwhile, South Carolina is a primary enforcement seat belt law state. This means that the police can pull you over just for noticing that you aren’t wearing your seat belt and issue a citation for that purpose alone. It is important to note that this does not just apply to drivers, but to passengers also.
Consequences of Not Wearing Your Seat Belt in Columbia, South Carolina
If you are pulled over for not wearing your seat belt or having a passenger without a seat belt, then you will get a ticket that comes with a $25 fine. If it happens again, then you will get a $50 fine. You will not have to worry about the impact on your driving record, your criminal record, or your auto insurance payments, because these are unaffected by a seat belt violation.
The worst of the potential consequences of not wearing a seat belt when a Columbia, South Carolina, auto accident occurs is the serious injury or death of yourself or someone you love. Despite the ongoing myths about seat belts harming drivers and passengers, the truth is that you are 50% more likely to live through the collision with a seat belt than if you did not wear one. It is also important to note that this is true only if you wear the seat belt correctly. The shoulder strap must not cross over your neck or be placed behind you. The lap belt should cross over your hips, and the shoulder belt should cross your shoulder. The reason this is so important is that the seat belt is designed to protect you by restraining the strongest parts of your body, so that these strongest parts take the majority of the impact.
With the shoulder strap crossing your chest and shoulder, your shoulder and rib cage will get the majority of the impact, protecting your head and your internal organs. The same is true with the lap belt crossing over your hips. Any higher, and it could press or cut into your belly, harming your internal organs. Any lower, and it may be too loose to hold you or you may be thrown from the seat belt. For pregnant women, the lap belt needs to go under the belly. It should always touch the upper thighs without actually be crossed over the thighs. The shoulder belt should cross over the chest and between the breasts. If it crosses at your neck, then it needs to be adjusted. If this is the case with a child, then the child may not be big enough to sit in the front seat and may require a booster seat.
Contact the Connell Law Firm After Any Columbia, South Carolina, Auto Accident
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Columbia, South Carolina, contact a determined Columbia car crash lawyer at the Connell Law Firm for a free consultation and case evaluation. While a seat belt can save your life and prevent serious injuries, failing to wear one will not prevent you from recovering compensation for any injuries that may result. If another driver is responsible for your auto accident, then you can recover compensation for your injuries, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and more.
Call the Connell Law Firm to learn more.