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New Child Restraint Laws Now in Effect in Florida
In 2014, at least five children were killed and 145 injured in automobile accidents on Florida's roadways as a result of improper or no child restraint use. These figures essentially match those reported for 2013 and prior years. But a new state law that went into effect January 1 may help change that.
As of New Year's Day, children three years old and younger must be secured in a child seat at all times while riding in a vehicle, and those ages four and five will be required to sit in a child safety seat or booster seat rather than simply being buckled in a seatbelt. Research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury for children ages four to eight by 45 percent, compared to seatbelt use alone. For younger children, car seats can reduce the risk of injury by as much as 54 percent.
"Safety belts save lives, but only when used and used correctly," said CDC Executive Director Terry Rhodes. "Booster seats help elevate children to the height at which the safety belt will properly secure them."
Depending upon your child's size and where a seatbelt crosses his or her body, you may be required to continue use of a child safety seat or booster seat even after age five. According to the new law, your child is ready to wear a seat belt without a booster seat age five if:
- He or she is at least 4-feet, 9-inches tall.
- He or she can sit all the way back in the seat and bend knees at the edge of the seat.
- The shoulder belt lays across the chest, not the neck.
- The lap belt lays across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
Florida's legislators have hashed and rehashed this issue for over a decade in Tallahassee. Now that the new law is firmly on the books, we should see child injury and fatality rates decline. If you're the parent of a little one, please heed this new law and additional recommendations, including always having children younger than 13 ride in the back seat of a vehicle for added safety.
If your child is involved in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence or deliberate act, get medical treatment immediately, even if there are no immediately apparent injuries. Then, call 407-999-8995 to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney with Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates to help assure you and your child get fair compensation for injuries or losses.