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What Are the Car Seat Laws in North Carolina?


When it comes to the safety of your children, your vehicle is one of the places where they are most vulnerable. Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional death for children in North Carolina, and that’s why using the proper car seat for your child is not only essential – it is state law. It is also encouraged that the manufacturer’s suggestions are followed, as they will provide recommended height, weight, and sometimes age limits to keep your child as safe as possible.

According to the CDC, car seat use reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 71-82% for children when compared to seat belt use alone. When you strap your child into their car seat before you get behind the wheel, you prevent serious injury in an accident and even potentially save their life. Not sure which car seat is right for your child? Here are the car seat regulations in North Carolina:


North Carolina follows the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations that all children aged two years or younger be placed in rear-facing car seats in the vehicle’s back seat. This helps protect their head, shoulders, and spine if they are involved in a car crash. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the passenger seat, as front passenger airbags could seriously injure or even kill young children in a crash.

It is also recommended that you keep your child in a rear-facing car as long as possible – until they have reached or exceeded the manufacturer’s height or weight recommendations. The AAP suggests that children stay in a rear-facing seat until they reach at least two years old. If you need assistance with adequately installing your seat, BuckleUpNC offers a list of places to have your seat checked here.


When a child has outgrown a rear-facing seat, they may ride in a forward-facing car seat. This is how they should stay until four or five years old. Even though they are forward-facing, they should always sit in the back seat.

You can gauge if a child is ready for a booster seat when the tips of their ears are above the top of the car seat. Kids generally stay in a forward-facing car seat until they reach about 40 pounds, although certain car seats are made to hold children up to 90 pounds.


There are two types of booster seats: backless and full-support. Backless booster seats should only be used if you use a vehicle with a proper headrest. Alternately, full-back booster seats are to be used when you do not have a headrest in your car. Booster seats should be secured with a lap and shoulder belt, which should fit snugly around the thighs and chest respectively.

Booster seats are usually used when a child has outgrown their forward-facing seat. Like any car seat, it is essential that you follow your seat’s manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations.

Booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% for children ages four to eight compared to seat belt use alone, according to the CDC. However, a more recent study found that the effectiveness of booster seats may be even higher than 45%. The same study also found that booster seats help prevent moderate and serious crash injuries among children ages seven to eight.


North Carolina requires that a child be either eight years old or 80 pounds before wearing a standard seatbelt. These requirements must be met – even if your child looks like they are physically ready to wear a seatbelt.


At Daggett Shuler, we know how devastating a car accident can be for a family, especially for children, who are especially at risk of getting seriously hurt. That’s why we put the health and safety of the Triad first and ensure that all family members are protected from severe injury in the event of a collision.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Daggett Shuler Law for help. An experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney will guide you through each step of your case.

If you have any questions about an automotive accident or other personal injury, contact us at 336-724-1234 to speak with a Car Accident Attorney at no cost upfront. We will investigate the details of your case for free to fight for you to achieve the compensation you deserve.

I would like to take time to thank the staff at Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law. To Megan Youngblood for helping me get my disability started; thank you so much for everything!

Olivia Winston