As of Jan. 1, 2020, Washington state has new laws on child car seats. This includes stricter rules on age, weight and height of children, restraints and how long a child must be in a rear facing seat. With this in mind, the question then leads to – do all parents in Florida know the laws in place enforcing the use of child safety seats in vehicles?
Children Under the Age of 18
In Florida, all passengers under the age of 18 must wear a seatbelt while in the vehicle. The proper type of seatbelt or harness depends on the child’s age, height, and weight. A driver can receive a traffic ticket and fine for not making sure that any passenger under the age of 18 is wearing a seatbelt. All drivers in Florida, as well as anyone sitting in the passenger seat, must wear seatbelts at all times. Failure to wear a seatbelt may result in a $30 fine, as well as additional fees. Although not part of the law, the Florida Department of Highway Safety recommends that all children 12 and under not ride in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Children Under the Age of Five
All children ages five and under must sit in a federally-approved car seat while in a motor vehicle in Florida. Failure to use a car seat for children five and younger can result in a $60 fine and three points on the driver’s license. Children three and under must sit in a separate car seat or a built-in car seat if the vehicle has one. Children four and five years old can either sit in a car seat or use a booster seat depending on the child’s height and weight.
Florida has some of the most lenient car seat laws in the country. Parents should understand that these are minimum standards.
Best practice would be for a child to remain rear facing car seat at least until age two or until the maximum height and weight limit of their convertible car seat. After age two the child can then transition from rear facing to forward facing, yet remain in a 5-point harness until at minimum age of five or six years old or until the maximum height and weight limit of their forward-facing harness seat. Once a child has outgrown their forward facing harness, they should remain in a belt positioning booster seat until they pass the 5-step test, which is typically 4’9″ tall and between 10-13 years old.
Children should remain in the backseat until at least age 13, as that is typically the age in which the body can withstand the impacts of an airbag. While a child may appear to be the size of a full grown adult, their bone structure is still not as calcified or strong enough to withstand the forces of the airbag.
Car Seat Installation
Every car seat is different, every car is different and therefore installation for a car seat could be different in every vehicle. Reading the manual is critical to a successful install. Always read the manual and even watch our ZTV episode that featured a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician from the Pensacola Fire Department. Joe and Pensacola Fire Inspector John Bartholomew show you how to properly install a child car seat, as well as provide tips to ensure your child’s safety in case you are ever involved in a car accident.
Parents can’t always prevent car accidents, but they can prevent injuries to their children, by making sure their child is properly secured in the vehicle .
If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by another’s carelessness, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.
Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit: https://www.zarzaurlaw.com
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Pensacola, FL 32502