Safety should always be of top importance to parents. Children should ride in a car seat or booster seat until they reach an age that allows for the use of regular seat belts.
Florida’s car seat laws are designed to keep children safer while meeting national guidelines. These requirements apply across the board.
Infants and Toddlers
Florida currently has a car seat law that mandates children aged six or younger must use a child safety seat or booster seat when riding in vehicles. The new law, implemented on January 2015, was designed to keep more kids safe and reduce Florida’s high crash-related injury and mortality rate among this age group.
Newborns, infants, and toddlers should always ride rear-facing in a car seat until reaching the maximum height and weight limits of the manufacturer’s maximum car seat limits. National guidelines vary by manufacturer for when to switch them over; consult with your child’s physician if uncertain when switching out the rear-facing car seat for forward facing. Generally, children should remain rear-facing until reaching these maximums.
Older infants and toddlers who have outgrown their rear-facing car seats should transition into forward-facing car seats with harnesses until they meet the height and weight requirements for moving onto booster seats from their manufacturer. Although there is no fixed age limit in Florida for forward-facing seats, it is advised that children use one until around four or five years old.
A booster seat can be purchased for as little as $30 and installed quickly with clear instructions. Most booster seats feature built-in headrests to reduce injury during crashes. A booster seat may also be an adequate replacement for expired or damaged child safety seats.
Florida law regarding child car seats can be complex. A knowledgeable lawyer can advise parents on making the best choices to protect their children’s safety. In addition, having your seat professionally inspected before use by Safe Kid Inspection Stations or fire stations across Florida may also help ensure it fits perfectly and works effectively for your vehicle.
Personal injury attorneys may help car accident victims seek compensation from those responsible. Florida’s modified comparative fault rule can be used to adjust compensation awards according to how much of the crash was contributed by their actions or inactions; one common caregiving mistake that often results in injury and even death is failing to use appropriate car seats when transporting children.
Children Aged 4 to 5
As parents, our primary goal is to protect our children. While this might include feeding them breakfast and reading them bedtime stories before teaching them right from wrong, keeping your child safe when riding in a car requires following Florida’s child seat safety regulations and laws.
Florida law currently mandates that all children birth through five must be restrained with a separate carrier device, an integrated child seat, or a booster seat to protect them in case of an accident. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that child seats decrease risk by 71% to 82% when used properly in car accidents.
However, choosing the correct car seat can confuse and overwhelm parents. Some states mandate rear-facing seats at certain weight and height levels. At the same time, others have different guidelines – making it hard to know which seat would best suit your child, and its use may require consulting your pediatrician or specialist for recommendations.
Florida’s child seat laws do not consider whether a child is taller or shorter than expected for their age; even if your child falls above or below average for his or her age group, this won’t alter Florida’s child seat laws.
Children ready to transition out of a booster seat typically do so when they reach four feet nine inches, typically around age eight. At this height and age, a seat belt fits appropriately around their chest and lap to provide maximum protection in an accident.
If you have questions regarding Florida car seat laws, Fasig | Brooks is available to guide you in navigating the confusing world of car and booster seat safety legislation to keep your children safe on the roads. Get in touch today for a complimentary consultation session.
Children Aged 6 to 8
Parents often hear their children pleading with them to move from the toddler car seat into a booster or “big kid” car seat. While this may make for easier buckling in, it’s important to remember that children who are unrestrained in crashes are at an increased risk of injury and should always remain restrained for optimal protection.
Car seats have been shown to reduce child injuries from car accidents by as much as 82%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research. While Florida had less stringent car seat laws than some states, proposed legislation before Florida legislators would bring these requirements in line with national safety guidelines.
Booster seat regulations vary by manufacturer and may allow some children to outgrow them earlier. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises children should remain in booster seats until they weigh 80 pounds (4’9″) or have reached 4’9″. Children using boosters should only ride in the back seat while using them, and the lap belt should rest snugly across their upper thighs rather than the stomach area.
Accidents involve many variables that can contribute to injuries suffered by victims; however, failure by parents to observe proper car seat safety rules could place them liable for negligence in cases where their children are involved in crashes.
Many organizations offer events and stations where parents can have their child’s car seats inspected to ensure proper type and installation. If possible, check if your local fire department provides car seat inspection stations; their staff is highly experienced in properly installing child seats and helping parents decide if their heart is safe to use.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys can advise on legal options to recover compensation for your losses. Get in touch with us now to arrange a complimentary consultation to discuss the specifics of your case!
Children Aged 9 to 13
Parents are responsible for safeguarding their children in every possible way, including ensuring they are safely restrained when riding in cars and that other drivers understand Florida car seat laws when giving rides. While this may not always be easy when children try to wiggle out of their seats or boosters, it could save lives in an accident.
Florida lawmakers may soon make it mandatory for children under age 5 to use child safety or booster seats; most states already do. Florida may quickly enact changes to bring its law closer to national guidelines for such devices; according to one study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, booster seats have been shown to reduce injury risk in a crash by 71% to 82% for kids.
Many parents have heard the refrain: “I want a big kid seat!” Convincing children to remain restrained can be challenging, but proper and early buckling can reduce significant injuries in a crash. According to Tampa General Hospital Trauma Chief Charles Paidas, many children requiring emergency surgery each year could have been saved if they had been secured with booster seats instead.
Child safety seats and boosters not only help protect children from injuries, but they can also shield them from heatstroke in hot cars. In 2017 alone, 83 Florida children died of heatstroke after being left in vehicles unattended for too long; this preventable cause of death accounted for one-fifth of Florida child deaths under five.
No matter the type of car seat you use, it is crucial that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper usage and replace if worn or damaged. As an accident victim, failure to abide by such policies could be used as evidence against you in civil proceedings seeking damages from others.
At Fasig | Brooks, our car accident lawyers believe in prioritizing children’s health and well-being and support state lawmakers’ efforts to ensure their protection. If you or someone close to you has been injured in an automobile accident, contact us online or at 407-425-8000 so we can arrange a free consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury attorneys.