Last month, state legislators voted to support a new bill that would make it booster-seat use mandatory for children from the ages of 4 to 7. The bill, SB 518, was passed with a unanimous vote by the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, and will be implemented later this year. Personal injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale say that the new law emphasizes a universal desire from both parties to protect children in the car and on the road.
Before the passage of SB 518, Florida was one of just two states with no set restraint requirement for children who are too big for a car seat. According to the state’s previous laws, children age 3 and under must ride in a federally-approved child’s car seat, and children between the ages of 4 and 5 must be secured in either a car seat—if they fit—or a safety seat belt. Children over the age of 4 or 5 who have outgrown a traditional car seat, typically designed to fit for children weighing up to 40-50 pounds, are required by Florida’ existing seat belt laws to wear a seat belt when they are in the car, but sometimes, this seat belt is not enough to safely restrain the child in the event of a collision or accident.
Although the state’s seat belt and restraint laws have, up until now, been lax on requiring properly secured seats specifically for younger kids, studies have shown that children are better protected from impact and forward motion caused by a car accident when they are in a car seat or booster, and in states where booster seats are required, kids are almost 40% more likely to be appropriately secured by their parents while in the car. With a restraint that is specifically designed to protect smaller bodies, boosters and child seats can prevent a young passenger from hurdling forward in the car if the vehicle should be hit from the front, sides, or rear.
Most state laws recommend—or even require—that children from the ages of 4 to 7 should be secured in a forward-facing child seat or booster. Some states even go further, requiring children aged 8 to 12 to use a booster seat, especially if they have not yet outgrown the height and weight recommendations for standard car seats. SB 518 puts Florida in line with these states, personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale report.
Every year, thousands of drivers and passengers suffer minor and serious injuries in collisions, and car accidents remain a leading cause of death across the country. Putting safety first for children will cut down on child-related injuries, especially those that could have been prevented with a tighter or more secure seat belt or safety seat.
At the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, a personal injury law firm in Fort Lauderdale, our lawyers believe that this new bill is a step in the right direction for making our children’s safety a priority. If your child has been injured in a car accident, contact David I Fuchs for a consultation today.