Those among us who are parents would know that along with the joys and wonders of parenthood, comes an even bigger responsibility for our children. You have to ensure that your child is well-fed and healthy, that they are educated in the right schools, that they grow up to be well-mannered individuals, and so much more. Among the top concerns of any parent is that their child remains safe and protected from any form of danger at any age.
Child safety is an even bigger concern for parents of younger children as the state of Florida has specific laws in keeping a child safe, especially when it comes to transporting a child from one place to another using a motor vehicle. This makes perfect sense as children’s bodies are not yet fully developed the way adult bodies are. Should there be a car accident, their tiny bodies might not be able to withstand the impact of the collision.
In fact, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vehicular accidents are one of the leading causes of death among children in the country. The different states in the United States have different sets of rules when it comes to the car seat and booster seat requirements, and Florida has written laws too when it comes to this. So, in this article, we will be discussing the following:
1. Florida’s car seat laws;
2. Florida’s booster seat laws;
3. To whom these are applied;
4. The exceptions to these laws; and
5. The penalties for the violation of these laws
What are The Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws in Florida?
As mentioned above, Florida has a written set of rules for its car seat and booster seat requirements. Section 316.613 of the Florida Statutes provides for the state’s child restraint requirements. It states that:
(1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle as defined in this section, while transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall, if the child is 5 years of age or younger, provide for the protection of the child by properly using a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
It further states the following for children aged 3 years old and below:
1. For children aged through 3 years, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
And for children aged 4 to 5, parents and guardians have the option of providing a booster seat for their children:
2. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used.
From the use of the word “shall,” we can see that a child restraint device is mandatory for children 5 years old and below. For children who are below the age of 3, the requirement is to have a separate carrier or a manufacturer-provided child seat. On the other hand, for children who are 4 to 5 years old, while a child restraint device still remains mandatory, parents may opt for a booster seat instead of a car seat or an integrated seat. While car seats and booster seats are required for children 5 and under, there are certain exceptions to this rule. The same statute provides that a car seat or booster seat will not be necessary if the child:
a. Is being transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family;
b. Is being transported in a medical emergency situation involving the child; or
c. Has a medical condition that necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a health care professional.
What’s The Penalty for a Child Not Being in a Car Seat Safety in Florida?
Under the same statute, failing to restrain a child in a moving vehicle does not constitute comparative negligence, nor can it be used as evidence of negligence in a trial. Failing to do so, however, will constitute a moving violation and the violator will have 3 points taken against their license.
Exceptions to the Booster Seat Laws in Florida
While the use of car seats or booster seats is only mandatory for children aged five and under, the CDC encourages keeping children below 12 years old buckled up in the back seat of the car. Depending on the height and weight of the child, the CDC recommends that you keep them in their car seats or booster seats until the seatbelt can fit them properly. It is further recommended that rear-facing car seats be used for infants and toddlers aged 0-4 years old to give them the best protection, and a forward-facing car seat once they have outgrown the rear-facing one. As previously mentioned, vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2019, more than 600 children died as a result of car accidents, and over 91,000 were seriously injured. Among those who died, nearly 40% were not wearing proper restraints. You can prevent this heartbreaking situation by ensuring that your child is buckled up each time they ride in the car with you.
Studies have shown that the use of car seats can reduce the risk of injury by as much as 82% compared to when only a seatbelt is used, and for children aged 4 to 8, booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 45%. Moreover, the use of seatbelts can save the lives of both children and adults.
Call A Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida Today
It is a scientifically proven fact that using a seatbelt can save your life, as well as those of your loved ones. The statistics quoted above are frightening, especially if you think of it happening to your own child. You can prevent this troubling thought from becoming a reality by equipping your vehicle with the proper child restraint device. If you are still confused over Florida’s car seat and booster seat laws, you may call a personal injury lawyer today for further explanation.