BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Media Advisory) — A new enhanced Florida law now requires children riding in motor vehicles to be in a safety seat until their 6th birthday. Until now, Florida had the weakest law in the country because it only required that children age 3 and under be secured in a car seat. Children 4 and older were treated like full-grown adults. Their only requirement was to wear a safety belt.
“With the implementation of the enhanced law, we hope to see more parents and caregivers using car seats or booster seats for children ages 4 through 6,” said Michele Harris, director, traffic safety culture, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This is especially important because children riding in motor vehicles should use a safety seat until they reach the height of 4’9” to keep them as safe as possible.”
Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S., but many of these deaths can be prevented by placing children in age- and size-appropriate safety seats. A recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey revealed that 75 percent of parents are unaware of the new law. Of those surveyed, 91 percent favor requiring children to ride in a safety seat until their 6th birthday.
AAA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that children who have outgrown their five-point harness car seat by weight or height use a booster seat until they are 4’9” (typically between the ages of 8-12). A booster seat simply “boosts” a child up and allows for proper placement of the lap and shoulder belt, which is crucial for safety during a crash. Without a booster seat, safety belts improperly cross over a child’s soft stomach and neck, which can lead to serious debilitating injuries in the event of a crash. Booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent compared to using an adult safety belt alone.
“AAA is thankful that the Florida legislature took action passing this law to protect children,” said Karen Morgan, manager, public policy, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “While this law does not cover all children who need a safety seat while riding in a motor vehicle, it is a step in the right direction.”
Every Friday in January, AAA and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation are giving away booster seats at AAA offices throughout Florida, while supplies last. Children must be at least 4 years old and weigh 40 pounds or more to qualify and must be present to receive the seat. Appointments are required so parents/caregivers who are interested should call their local AAA office for more information.