Car Seats: Guidelines for Safety
The new school year is right around the corner, and it has many of us in the office concerned about child safety as it relates to car seats. We wanted to know how we can make our kids safer in the car.
Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that motor vehicle accidents account for the largest percentage of death among children in the United States. In 2012 alone 3,117 children under the age of 19 died as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Interestingly enough, many experts have concluded that many of these deaths are preventable. Of the children ages 8 and under who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2012, 31% of the children were not properly restrained or simply unrestrained. By utilizing age and size-appropriate car seats or booster seats significantly reduces the risk of injuries and death to children properly buckled up.
Florida law is very specific when it comes to child car seat requirements. Florida law requires that children under the age of 5 must be properly restrained no matter where they are seated in the vehicle. Additionally, children up to the age of 3 years old must be secured in a proper child safety seat. Importantly, if a regular safety belt does not properly fit the child correctly, a booster seat is required to correctly position your child’s lap and shoulder belt on their body. Use the following car seat guidelines from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles(FLHSMV) while driving with a child in your vehicle:
Birth – 1 year old and at least 20 lbs.
Use a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat of the car.
1 year old and 20 lbs. – 4 years old and 40 lbs.
Use a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat until they outgrow the weight and height limit of the child car seat.
Normally when children are over 1 year old and weigh over 20 pounds, you can switch to a forward-facing car seat in the back of the car.
4 years old and 40 lbs. – 8 years old or 4’9″ tall
Use a forward-facing child seat in the back seat until they reach the weight and height limits recommended by the manufacturer.
Switch to a booster seat in the back of the car.
8 years old or 4’9″ tall –12 years old
Use a booster seat in the back seat until your child is big enough to use the car’s seat belt.
At 13 years old, your child can sit in the front seat of your car.
For more information, please check out the FHSMV’s safety brochure on child safety seats.
Any violation of the child restraint law in Florida carries a fine of $60 and three points on your driving record. Your safety is our No. 1 one concern. However, if you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident involving a child, please call a trusted personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by kdshutterman.