In recent news out of Florida, there could be changes to the car seat laws within the state. After seeing the devastating effects of St. Petersburg car accidents, many are willing to wield the tremendous power of the pen, if it means that kids will be better protected against serious injury or death.
It will depend on the actions of Governor Rick Scott, but assuming that he signs the proposed law, as of January 2015 many of the children of Florida will find themselves seated a bit differently in the car. The law would state that all kids between the ages of four and five years would have to be restrained in a car seat or booster seat while traveling Florida roads and highways. There will be two exceptions to this law:
- 1) Kids who are riding with someone that is not an immediate family member. It is assumed that there will be times when an unexpected event causes the need for someone to pick up the child and that volunteer may not have a booster seat or car seat at his or her disposal. Therefore, the law allows for that unusual circumstance.
2) In emergencies or serious medical situations, when time is of the essence, the law will overlook failure to abide by the car seat law.
It is important to note whether or not this law passes, car seats and booster seats have been proven highly useful in protecting children in the event of a crash. Florida law currently states that children under the age of three years must be secured in a car seat and that every child under the age of 18 must be restrained by seatbelts. However, there is a danger in using adult seat belts for small children. They are built to fit correctly over a person of adult proportions, which means that the belts are going to fit awkwardly on a child’s smaller frame. This can ultimately lead to the belts catching at the stomach and neck in a car accident. One can imagine the type of injuries that could happen as a result. Watch the video below to better understand how a booster seat helps young children in an accident.
There has been a great deal of research – crash tests and evaluation of accident data – done to make sense of how a seat can be better built to restrain children in sudden impacts. It has been found that properly built booster seats can reduce the chances of serious injury by as much as 45 percent. This does make one wonder why the laws in Saint Petersburg and elsewhere in Florida have been relatively tolerant regarding the use of car seats and booster seats. Other states, such as New York, require children to be seated in the safety devices until the age of nine or upon reaching a specified height and weight. They further designate which type of seat should be used based on age and weight.
While Florida does require that children be buckled up, there are some areas that are even more hands off in their approach to car seat laws. A video like this one following should be shown to every parent who considers allowing a child to ride unrestrained.
The new Florida law would assess a penalty against those found in violation of it. The $60 fine is minimal, but the three points against the driver’s license would likely ensure a hefty jump in insurance premiums, which might be enough to serve as a monthly (or annual) reminder of the importance of car seats. This law will also make parents carry some degree of negligence if a young child is injured in an accident while improperly restrained. Personal injury attorneys can still help, if someone else is at fault in the accident, but the outcome will likely vary from what would happen had that same child been in a proper car seat.