As of Jan. 1, 2015, any 4- or 5-year-old child riding in a car is required by law to be secured in federally approved child restraint devices. Before this important law went into effect, children over 3 were required to wear seat belts. They did not have to use booster seats, as children in many other states were required to do. In fact, Florida was only one of two states without a booster seat law.
West Palm Beach car accident attorneys welcome the new law, because it will likely save lives in Florida. At the David Glatthorn law firm, we know how absolutely devastating child injury cases can be for Florida families. That's why we urge parents and guardians to make sure their young children are using appropriate safety seats.
While we applaud efforts to increase child safety, we are concerned that many parents may not be aware of the new requirement. They also may not know which seats are approved or how to install them correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many child seats are not properly installed. This includes car seats for infants and toddlers, which use harnesses over the shoulder, as well as booster seats for pre-schoolers and older. The NHTSA lists the following common mistakes in securing a child seat:
- Loose harnesses
- Improper attachment
- Incorrect recline angles
The NHTSA has some helpful advice on how to find the right car seat and how to properly install it. You can even visit a child car seat inspector in Florida to make sure you've installed the seat correctly and your child is safe. Visit driverknowledge.com to learn more. The website includes a link to an "inspection station locator."
While the law only requires booster seat use until the child turns 6, it's recommended that children continue to use booster seats for at least a few more years. Here are recommendations when considering if your child is ready for a standard seat belt:
- Your child is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
- Your child is able to sit all the way back in the seat and bend his or her knees at the edge of the seat.
- The shoulder belt lies across your child's chest, not the neck.
- The lap belt lies across your child's upper thighs, not the stomach.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for serious injury drops by 45 percent for children between 4- and 8-years-old who use booster seats compared with seat belt use alone.
In Florida in 2014, five children died and 145 were injured because they were either not in child safety seats or the seats were not installed properly, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The agency states that five children were killed and 150 were injured in 2013.
Even when your child is ready for a standard seat belt, he or she should ride in the back seat when possible until the age of 13.
No one ever wants to be in an accident, especially one involving a child. But if you are injured or lose a loved one in a car accident, it's important to seek the advice of legal counsel as soon as possible. Attorney David Glatthorn aggressively fights to protect the rights of the injured and hold negligent individuals accountable.
If you or a loved one is injured in a traffic accident, visit http://www.davidglatthornlaw.com or contact David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394 to discuss your rights. Serving Palm Beach County and all of South Florida.