While it’s impossible to prevent all car accidents, you can protect your children while they’re in the car. Putting children in the right safety seats can substantially decrease the risk of death or severe injury in an auto accident. Like all other states, Florida has laws requiring the use of safety seats in cars and trucks. By learning the rules, you can keep your kids safe and avoid legal trouble.
Kids Under 18
In the state of Florida, passengers under 18 must wear safety restraints while in vehicles, with the choice of safety system depending on a child’s weight, height, and age. You can receive a fine and a citation for anyone under 18 who isn’t wearing a safety belt or in a car seat. All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts, and failure to do so may result in fees and a $30 fine.
Although it’s not mandatory, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety recommends that children 12 and younger avoid the front seat entirely. Children five and under must sit in approved car seats, and failure to do so will result in three points on your license and a $60 fine.
Car Seat Best Practices
Putting your children in the right safety restraints is crucial to their safety. It’s important to read and obey the restraint system’s directions and to choose the right type for your child.
- Newborns until age 3: Car seats for small children should face the rear. At this age, a child’s neck cannot sustain a massive amount of force, like that of a car crash. Children placed facing forward are at an increased risk of developing fatal injuries. The law requires all kids under two years of age to ride in this type of seat.
- Ages 3-5: Older kids can sit in a forward-facing seat now that their bodies have developed the proper muscles to survive in the case of an accident. Adults should make sure children stay fastened in their positions, with all necessary safety belts locked tightly in place.
- Ages 5 -12: Youngsters have to stay in a seat until they reach a minimum height of 4”9 and adequately fit into a seatbelt. Until then, they should always ride in a booster seat or belt-positioning device. The change has less to do with age and more with size. Before children can ride on their own, they have to securely fasten their seatbelt, which usually doesn’t happen until kids reach a certain height.
Parents should only stop using a booster seat when the seat belt goes comfortably and safely over the child’s shoulder.
Ensure That Your Child’s Car Seat is Properly Installed
If you’re unsure as to how a safety seat should be installed, find a local inspection location. Many safety organizations host free events where parents and caretakers can get safety seats checked for proper installation and type. Following the state’s child safety seat laws may save your child’s life, and it may prevent you from being held liable if a tragedy occurs.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If your family finds themselves in the midst of an accident, call in legal help immediately. A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer can help ensure that you and your child receive the compensation you’re entitled to by law. Our team at Salpeter Gitkin, LLP have decades of experience helping families with personal injury cases and can guide you to compensation for all accident-related damages. Contact us today at (954) 467-8622 for a free case evaluation.