Everyone knows the importance of child safety when in it comes to traveling in a vehicle. In 2015, the laws on car seat age requirements changed. Florida law now states that children should be in a car seat or booster seat until they are at least five years old. Previously, children ages 3 and younger were required to ride in the child-restraint devices, while children ages 4 and 5 could use seat belts.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a 5-point harness until the child is 40 lbs,” a spokeswoman for AAA said. People charged with violating the law can face fines up to $60 and three points on their driver’s licenses. The law includes exceptions such as when a driver is unpaid and is not a member of a child’s immediate family or when a child is being transported because of a medical emergency.
Although this new law only states that the child needs to be in the seat until age five, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggest that a child uses a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 to 12 years old, or at least 4 feet 9 inches.
NHTSA provides the following guidelines for the correct car seat depending on your child’s age:
- 0 to 12 months: only rear-facing car seats designed for infants should be used.
- 1 to 3: continue to use a rear-facing car seat until your child outgrows it or reaches the maximum suggested weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
- 4 to 7: once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, they may travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
- 8 to 12: keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
Attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi and Guito, P.A. understand the importance of keeping children safe and protecting them from injury when traveling in automobiles. We encourage you to take protective measures to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible. Contact attorney TJ Grimaldi today if you have been involved in a personal injury automobile accident or if you have questions regarding the legal requirements for car seats in Florida.