Columbia Police Department: Traffic Division - Columbia Police Department

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Columbia Police Department: Traffic Division

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS. There are a number of factors, which can take our attention away from the road, and we therefore have to avoid doing things that will divert our concentration away from safe driving.

DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. Although this seems very obvious, the unfortunate truth is that many people are driving under the influence of not just alcohol, but other mind or mood altering substances, including medications.

STAY ALERT. In order to stay focused, it is important to get plenty of sleep and avoid driving when you have not had sufficient rest.

KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK. We have all experienced irritation when a careless driver has cut in
front of us, or when someone has taken a parking space for which we have been waiting. It's natural to feel annoyed when these things happen. However, circumstances such as this can lead to unsafe driving if we let our emotions get out of hand.

OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT. This too seems like a very basic common sense rule of the road. We all must
remind ourselves that the faster our vehicles are going, the less control we have over them, and the more severe the impact will be in the event of a crash.


KEEP YOUR VEHICLE IN SAFE CONDITION. There is no "good" time for your vehicle to break down.
 Read your owner's manual regarding the recommended maintenance for your vehicle and establish a timetable for routine maintenance to be done so that your vehicle will run smoothly and safely.  A good, yet inexpensive tool to keep in your vehicle is a tire gauge. The air pressure in our tires can affect safety, handling, and gas mileage.

SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. When you practice good driving skills, others will notice; especially if the "others"happen to be your children.

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