Until January 2015, Florida had some of the weakest – and most dangerous – child passenger safety laws in the United States. According to pre-2015 legislation, parents were only required to keep their children in booster seats until the child was three.
This month, Florida enacted a new law that requires parents to keep their children in a booster seat until the child is six years old. Additionally, the seats must be federally approved and crash-tested.
This is a serious step for child safety in Florida, considering that booster seats are proven to decrease the risk of a serious injury by 45% for children between the ages of four and eight.
Penalties for Noncompliance
Parents who fail to follow the new guidelines for child passenger safety could face tree points against their driver’s licenses and fines reaching $60.
Child Passenger Safety: The Basics
- Infants and toddlers (from birth to age two) should ride in rear-facing car seats. This suggestion is based on the average weight of children these ages. When the child reaches the upper end of the seat’s weight limit (typically 35 pounds), he / she should graduate to a forward-facing seat.
- When you child is between 40 and 65 pounds, it is safest for him / her to ride in a forward-facing car seat. According to child safety researchers, parents should place their child in a forward-facing car seat until the child reaches the manufacturer’s weight limit for the product.
- A booster seat should be used to position the seatbelt so that it protects your child from potential injury. This typically includes children between the ages of eight and 12. In the event of an accident, the booster seat will increase the protection that the seatbelt provides your child.
“When is my child old enough to ride without booster seat?”
You child is old enough to ride without a booster or car seat when he / she meets the following requirements:
- The lap belt should cross the hips
- The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest
- Leg’s should bend comfortably over the edge of the seat when his / her back is against the back of the seat
Children 13 years old and older can ride in the front seat of the car, but it is safer for them to ride in the back. This is especially true for children who are small for their ages.
New Law May Reduce Injuries and Deaths
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, parents tend to graduate their child between seating methods too quickly.
With the help of Florida’s new child safety law, parents can minimize the risk of personal injury to their children by implementing car and booster seats until children are old enough to ride without assistance.
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