It’s a nightmare that has plagued many parents, even after their children have grown-up: the idea of a horrible car crash involving their child or children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a disturbing one-third of all children killed in car crashes were not buckled in to a car seat. Currently, all states have laws involving the use of child car seats. However, Florida has recently joined the majority of states to go one step even further. They are requiring children that are too big for car seats, but not big enough for seat belts, to be placed in a booster seat. The booster seat law in Florida makes it the 49th state to pass such legislation as a means of protecting their children.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children. However, this trend can be significantly decreased if parents make sure to properly use child safety restraint systems. Child car seat laws have been in effect in all of the countries including Florida for years as a means of encouraging parents to use rear-facing car seats placed in the back seat of vehicles. (If a car seat is placed in the front seat, then serious injury and even death can be caused by the airbag when it deploys.) However, when children outgrow the car seat, they are still not necessarily big enough for adult seat belts. If the seat belt is buckled so that it lies on the stomach or neck of the child, then it can also cause injury. When the belt tightens it can constrict the stomach too much causing internal injuries and can actually snap the child’s neck. That is why Florida has joined other states in requiring children who are too big for car seats and too small for seat belts to be placed in a car booster seat. This positions the child higher so that he or she can be strapped in using traditional seat belts without running the risk of injuring the child.
This law went into effect in 2015 and mandates that all children under 5 years old have to be in the proper seat restraints. If your child is 3 or less, then he or she must be placed in a child safety seat. Once a child reaches 4 years old, he or she can be hooked with a safety belt only if it fits properly. If it does not, then the booster seat must be used to reposition the child. Your child should be restrained in a booster seat as long as he or she is between forty to eighty pounds and shorter than 4’9”. Once they have exceeded these two requirements, then they no longer need the booster seat. If a driver is found to be in violation of this law, then he will be fined $60 and receive 3 points on his driving record.
Wolf & Pravato encourages all parents to use the proper child car restraints for the protection of their children. If you are not sure about how to properly hook in a car seat or booster seat, Keys to Kids Safety Program is available to help. This will allow you to receive expert assistance in properly installing a car seat or hooking in a booster seat so that your child can be safe.