Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented with proper use of infant car seats and child booster seats. In fact, buckling a child into car seats that are appropriate for their size and age can significantly reduce their risk of being injured in the event of a car crash.
Florida Now Requires Use Of Car Seats For Children Up To 6 Years Old
Under the new law, which takes effect in January, 2015, and which amends the current Florida Statute 316.613, children from birth through 3 years (up to a child’s fourth birthday) must be restrained in a “separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’ integrated child seat.” For children ages 4 through 5 years (up to a child’s sixth birthday), “a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat” must be used.
There are some exceptions to the new law, including one that allows a safety belt (or seat belt) to be used if the child is being “transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family.”
Car Seats And Booster Seats Save Lives
Car seat and booster seat safety are important issues because, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 and younger died in motor vehicle crashes and more than 148,000 were injured in the United States. Of the children who died, 1 in 3 was not buckled up.
The CDC also found that more than 600,000 children under the age of 13 rode in vehicles without the use of a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt at least some of the time. It also found that use of child safety seats, booster seats, and restraints among young children was often dependent on whether the driver of the vehicle also used his or her seat belt. Forty percent of the time when the driver was not seat belted, neither were the child passengers.
Even when parents try to keep their children safe, experts have found that child restraint systems, including car seats and booster seats, are often used incorrectly or are incorrectly installed. In fact, one study found that over 70 percent of car and booster seats were misused in a way that could increase a child’s risk of injury during a car crash.
There are many car seat choices available on the market and it is critical to read the manufacturer’s instructions for installation as well as sizing. In general, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the appropriate choice of a restraint and its positioning within a vehicle depends on the age and size of the child using the restraint. In general, the following guidelines apply:
Birth to 12 months – children under one year old should ride in a rear-facing car seat.
1-3 years – keeping a child in a rear-facing position is the best way to keep him or her safe. Children should remain in a rear-facing position until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. When a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to move to a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4-7 years – Children should remain in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. When they reach the maximum limits, they should move to a booster seat.
National Child Passenger Safety Week Is September 14-20, 2014
National Child Passenger Safety Week is set for September 14-20, 2014. The week provides parents and other caretakers with a reminder to take the opportunity to check the installation of any child safety restraints in their vehicles.
For parents or others who have questions about proper car seat installation, Saturday, September 20, 2014 is National Seat Check Saturday. Local Tallahassee law enforcement officials will be helping check the proper installation of child safety restraints at various locations around the area.
At Barrett, Fasig & Brooks, we help our clients get back on their feet after experiencing a serious accident or injury. If your child has suffered due to the negligent actions of another, please call our trusted Tallahassee personal injury attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your legal options at (866) 346-4186.