North Carolina Seat Belt Law

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the most common questions asked about the North Carolina Child Passenger Safety Law.  If you have a question that is not answered on the list below, contact a local program or call 1-800-672-4527 x2 during normal business hours.

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  • Can I get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in a parking lot or driveway?
    • The North Carolina seat belt law applies to vehicles on a street or highway.  The seatbelt law does not apply to other areas such as parking lots or driveways, however you should always wear your seatbelt when the vehicle is in motion, no matter where you are driving.
  • Can seat belts cause injuries?
    • Yes, they can cause some injuries, especially in severe crashes, however these injuries are usually limited to bruises and other very minor injuries especially when compared to what often happens without the seat belt. It is important that belts be worn correctly to reduce the chance that they might injure you.
    • Lap belts should be worn as low and snug as possible on the hips since belts that are worn high on the stomach can cause internal injuries.
    • Shoulder belts must be worn snugly across the shoulder and chest. Do not place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm. With the shoulder belt behind the back, your head will be thrown forward to strike the dashboard, windshield, or the air bag. Shoulder belts under the arm do not hold your head back away from danger either. In addition, the belt under the arm can fracture ribs and cause serious internal injuries.
  • What counts as a valid medical exemption?
    • The North Carolina Medical Society’s Executive Council, by recommendation from the Committee on Traffic Safety, has determined that “medical exemptions to the state’s seat belt law be granted only in extraordinary cases of medical necessity…” If a physician decides that a patient has an “extraordinary case of medical necessity” preventing his or her wearing a seat belt, then a letter from the physician stating this situation and carried by the patient is needed.
  • My seat belt doesn’t fit around me.  What should I do?
    • Seat belt extenders are available for most domestic vehicles. These extenders are 10 inch lengths of webbing with buckles on both ends to fit onto the seat belts already in the vehicles. Seat belt extenders are generally available through the parts department of your local dealership.  Extenders are not interchangeable so go to a dealer for your particular vehicle.
  • I am pregnant.  Should I continue to wear my seatbelt?
    • Yes, especially now. The greatest threat to the unborn child is death or serious injury to the mother, and a seat belt will help insure your survival in the event of a crash. The lap belt should be worn low and snug on the hips beneath the baby and the shoulder belt should be snug and above the baby.
    • Pregnant Driver
      Pregnant driver with seat belt properly positioned.
      Photo Credit: NHTSA
  • My classic car doesn’t have seatbelts.  Do I have to have them installed?
    • Cars manufactured before 1968 and vans, pickup trucks, and SUVs manufactured before 1972 are not required to have seat belts and are exempt from the NC seat Belt law. Owners of these older vehicles are not required to have seat belts installed in them. Vehicles manufactured after these dates are required to have seatbelts and belts must be installed in them if the original seat belts have been removed.


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