Florida Finally Passes Booster Seat Legislation
According to the GHSA, Florida's current law requires children under the age of 3 to be secured in a car seat when riding in a vehicle. Children between the ages of 4 and 5 are not required to use any child restraints and are permitted to use adult seat belts. Until Tuesday, Florida and South Dakota were the only two states that lacked any booster seat laws. As an experienced personal injury firm, we are all too familiar with the injuries that can occur from an automobile accident when a child is not securely fastened. Our hope is that this new law will minimize the number of injuries and death to innocent children who are often victims of horrific car accidents.
If Approved, New Law Will Require Children to be Secured in a Booster Seat until Age 5
The Tampa Bay Times reported that after almost 14 years of trying to get this bill passed, the Senate in a 36-3 vote on Tuesday finally approved it. The legislation is now headed to Governor Scott for final approval. Once approved, starting January 1st, children under the age of 5 will be required to ride in a child safety seat or booster seat when traveling in a car. Prior to this new legislation, children between the ages of 4 and 5 were not required to adhere to any additional safety measures and were permitted to use adult seat belts. Now, these children will be required to be secured with a booster seat, offering them much better protection in a car crash. The new law still permits children to use an adult seat belt in the following instances:
- The child is being transported as a favor to the family and the driver is not an immediate family member
- There is an emergency
- Doctor approval
Benefits of Using a Child Safety Seat
In a report issued in May of 2010 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using a child safety seat was an effective way to reduce "incapacitating injuries" in car accidents for children in different age groups. The report confirmed that in various types of automobile accidents, "children who correctly use the appropriate restraint for their size and age are at a significantly lower risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries." In general, a child safety seat's purpose is to:
- Offer a child protection from being thrown out of a vehicle
- Prevent the child from hitting something within the vehicle or from being crushed by other passengers
- Secure the child in a seat within the vehicle
- Absorb some of the force upon impact
- Distribute the force of the impact over the whole body of the vehicle
It is not shocking that a child safety seat or booster seat is the best way to keep our children safe in a car accident. Our experienced personal injury attorneys know how devastating it can be to see a loved one suffer injuries from an automobile accident and how heartbreaking it is when a child is involved. But now Florida residents can rest easy because additional child safety seat measures are no longer an option – it's the law.