| Sheriff Jay Koon |

Did you know that in South Carolina every occupant of a vehicle must wear a seat belt? It’s true.

In fact, for several years now, it has been a primary offense; meaning: a law enforcement officer has the authority to stop a driver if the officer has a clear and unobstructed view of a driver or occupant of a motor vehicle not wearing a safety belt or not secured in a child restraint system (SC DPS).

If you’re the driver, you’re responsible for ensuring everyone in your vehicle 17 years of age or younger is wearing a safety belt or in their car seat. SC law states that you would not be charged for those who may be 17 and younger, but already maintain a driver’s license or permit, and are choosing not to wear their seat belt. Therefore, they would be charged individually and subjected to a $25 fine.

Seat belt laws do not apply to school, church, or day care buses; public transportation vehicles (except taxis), when riding in a parade, mail carriers, or medical/rescue personnel who are attending to injured or sick individuals in an emergency vehicle.

The SC Department of Public Safety reports that “every hour, at least one person dies in this country because he or she didn’t buckle up. Failure to use a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic-related behavior.” Seat belt usage saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017 (NHTSA). In fact, of the people who died in 2017 due to motor vehicle crashes, 47% weren’t wearing seat belts.

Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in the event of a motor vehicle crash; seat belts do save lives.