Columbia Police Department: Traffic Unit - Columbia Police Department

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MISSION STATEMENT


It is the mission of the Traffic Safety Unit to provide professional police service, to work with the community to provide education and awareness in the area of traffic safety in an effort to reduce traffic collisions and traffic related fatalities in the City of Columbia.

JOB DESCRIPTION

The traffic safety enforcement officers are primarily responsible for enforcing South Carolina Vehicle Code statutes, enforcement of local traffic ordinances, and investigation of vehicle collisions.
The purpose of the traffic safety unit is to create safer roadways for motorist, cyclists and pedestrians. This is accomplished through enforcing traffic laws, educating citizens and addressing roadway engineering issues.
The traffic safety officers respond to community complaints regarding traffic safety issues and provide dedicated enforcement at high collision intersections.
If you are concerned about a specific traffic related issue, you are encouraged to contact the traffic unit by telephone, at 803-545-3975.

 SCHOOL CROSSING GUARDS

The Crossing Guard Unit is responsible for providing vehicular and pedestrian traffic control at designated locations to promote maximum safety in the movement of elementary and middle school students to and from school.



THE LAW

Synopsis of law:

South Carolina’s child passenger restraint law requires that:

  • Children from birth to 1 year old, or who weigh less than 20 pounds, must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.


  • Children 1 through 5 years old weighing at least 20 pounds and less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child seat.


  • Children 1 through 5 years old weighing 40 to 80 pounds must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat.


  • Children under the age of 6 are not required to be in booster seats if they weigh more than 80 pounds or if they can sit with their backs against the car's seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without slouching.


  • Children under 6 may not sit in the front passenger seat. However, this restriction does not apply if the vehicle has no rear passenger seats or if all other rear passenger seats are occupied by children less than 6 years old.


Violators are subject to a $150 fine. This law does not apply to taxis, church, school and day care buses, or commercial vehicles.


Car Seat Appointment and Inspection


Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children’s car seats checked. Certified child passenger safety technicians are available through the Columbia Police Department Traffic Division to inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice free of charge.  Call 803-545-3975 to set-up an appointment.

Recommendations For All Ages


  • Select a car seat based on your child's age, height, and weight.


  • Keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as your child fits the seat's height and weight requirements.


  • All children under 13 should ride in the back seat.


SELECTING THE BEST SEATS


Birth – 12 months

Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.

There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 – 3 years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 – 12 years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

 

SCHOOL BUS STOPPING LAW


Motorists must alway stop when they are traveling behind a bus with flashing amber or red lights.  When they are approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights from the opposite direction, drivers must stop if they are on a two-lane road.

If motorist are on a four-lane (or more) highway or private road and meet a stopped school bus, they do not have to stop.  However, drivers should slow down and proceed with caution.

 



South Carolina’s Safety Belt Law changed December 9th, 2005.  The new law allows for primary enforcement of safety belt usage.  Under the new primary law, 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.

Unlawful use of a wireless electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle


(1)    'Hands-free wireless electronic communication device' means an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a personal digital assistant, a text-messaging device, or a computer, which allows a person to wirelessly communicate with another person without holding the device in either hand by utilizing an internal feature or function of the device, an attachment, or an additional device. A hands-free wireless electronic communication device may require the use of either hand to activate or deactivate an internal feature or function of the device.

(2)    'Text-based communication' means a communication using text-based information, including, but not limited to, a text message, an SMS message, an instant message, or an electronic mail message.

(3)    'Wireless electronic communication device' means an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a personal digital assistant, a text-messaging device, or a computer, which allows a person to wirelessly communicate with another person.

(B)    It is unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State.

(C)    This section does not apply to a person who is:

(1)    lawfully parked or stopped;

(2)    using a hands-free wireless electronic communication device;

(3)    summoning emergency assistance;

(4)    transmitting or receiving data as part of a digital dispatch system;

(5)    a public safety official while in the performance of the person's official duties; or

(6)    using a global positioning system device or an internal global positioning system feature or function of a wireless electronic communication device for the purpose of navigation or obtaining related traffic and road condition information.

(D)(1)    A person who is adjudicated to be in violation of the provisions of this section must be fined not more than twenty-five dollars, no part of which may be suspended. No court costs, assessments, or surcharges may be assessed against a person who violates a provision of this section. A person must not be fined more than fifty dollars for any one incident of one or more violations of the provisions of this section. A custodial arrest for a violation of this section must not be made, except upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court when summoned or for failure to pay an imposed fine. A violation of this section does not constitute a criminal offense. Notwithstanding Section 56-1-640, a violation of this section must not be:

(a)    included in the offender's motor vehicle records maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles or in the criminal records maintained by SLED; or

(b)    reported to the offender's motor vehicle insurer.

(2)    During the first one hundred eighty days after this section's effective date, law enforcement officers shall issue only warnings for violations of this section.

(E)    A law enforcement officer shall not:

(1)    stop a person for a violation of this section except when the officer has probable cause that a violation has occurred based on the officer's clear and unobstructed view of a person who is using a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State;

(2)    seize, search, view, or require the forfeiture of a wireless electronic communication device because of a violation of this section;

(3)    search or request to search a motor vehicle, driver, or passenger in a motor vehicle, solely because of a violation of this section; or

(4)    make a custodial arrest for a violation of this section, except upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court when summoned or for failure to pay an imposed fine.

(F)    The Department of Public Safety shall maintain statistical information regarding citations issued pursuant to this section.

(G)    This section preempts local ordinances, regulations, and resolutions adopted by municipalities, counties, and other local governmental entities regarding persons using wireless electronic communication devices while operating motor vehicles on the public streets and highways of this State."

 
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