Florida Fails to Enact a Booster Seat Requirement

The Florida Justice Association (FJA) reminds us that children were the losers this last legislative session. Florida remains one of only three states in the U.S. that has failed to enact a booster seat requirement. The Florida legislature failed to enact Senate Bill 238 which would have made the state compliant with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines for child safety in a motor vehicle.

What is a booster seat? A booster seat allows a seat belt to correctly fit a child who may have outgrown a forward-facing car seat with a harness. Check the seat to see the weight-height restrictions specified by the manufacturer.

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Until a child is at least four feet nine inches tall and between 8 and 12 years old, most seat belts will not correctly fit them. An improperly fitted seat belt can cause spinal cord and abdominal injuries. The booster seat will allow the straps of the seat belt to be properly seated on a child usually between the ages of four and seven. Medical journal Pediatrics reports the booster seat reduces injuries to children in that age range by 59 percent.

This year the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called upon the 50 states to enact laws to require the use of booster seats, and for children age 12 and under to ride in the rear seat of the car.

It’s tough to understand why this would be such a tough sell to lawmakers. In states with a booster seat law, children ages four and five were 23 percent more likely to be appropriately restrained, reports FJA.

For younger children the recommendations stay the same:

  • Infants and toddlers should ride in the rear of a car in a rear-facing car seat until they are about two or reach the manufacturers guidelines printed on the seat.
  • Children ages two and older should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. Again check the seat manufacturer guidelines for height and weight.

Sadly, auto accidents remain the leading cause of death for children and young people in the United States, which reminds us that it is critical that children be properly restrained when riding in a motor vehicle.

Sources: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/238, http://www.ntsb.gov/surface/highway/childseat.htm and http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/carseatsafe

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