What You Must Know About Car Seat Safety & Seatbelts
Strapping your child (and yourself) into the car is a critically important action for your child’s safety in the event of an accident. No one can predict a crash, but you can prepare for one.
More than 91,000 children ages 12 and younger were injured in car crashes in 2019, and 608 died. Of those who died, 38% were not buckled up, meaning many dozens of children’s lives may have been saved if they had been properly restrained.
When you include adults, nearly half (47%) of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019 were unbuckled. Seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts in 2017 alone.
Help keep you or your child from becoming a statistic. Get the facts on seatbelt and car seat safety to protect your precious cargo.
Florida Seatbelt and Car Seat Laws
Properly restraining yourself and your children is not just a suggestion for safety – it is the law. Here are some important Florida car seat and seatbelt laws.
Car seats and booster seats:
- Children 5 and under must be secured properly in a federally approved crash-tested child restraint device.
- Children ages 0 through 3 must be in child restraint devices of a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat or a separate carrier.
- Children ages 4 through 5 must be in an integrated child seat, separate carrier, or booster seat.
- Seat belts or child restraint devices must be used by drivers of motor vehicles, all children under 18, and all front seat passengers.
- Florida’s safety belt law is a primary enforcement law, meaning an officer can stop a vehicle and issue a citation simply for observing a safety belt or restraint violation.
Car Seat Tips
Keeping your child safe requires more than just throwing a car seat in the back of your vehicle and hoping for the best. Follow these tips to ensure your child’s safety.
Always Read Manufacturer’s Guidelines
When you purchase a car seat, it will come with guidelines on the appropriate ages, heights, and weights of the children the seat is for. Triple check that you have the correct restraint system for your child. According to experts, here are the general rules based on age:
- Birth to 1 year: Rear-facing car seat.
- 1 to 3 years: Rear-facing seat until your child reaches the maximum height or weight limit. Then, forward-facing seat with harness and tether.
- 4 to 7 years: Forward-facing seat until your child reaches the maximum height or weight limit. Then switch to a booster seat, still in the back seat.
- 8 to 12 years: When the shoulder belt lies across the shoulder and chest (not neck or face), you can lose the booster seat. Children should still ride in the back seat.
Pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s rules and regulations when you purchase and install a car seat. Note that car seats do expire. Check the expiration date on old or used car seats to make sure they are still viable before using them.
You Do Not Have to Install Your Car Seat Alone
Car seat installation can make all the difference in how well the equipment protects your child in a crash. Many parents have trouble properly installing a new car or booster seat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 46% of car seats are misused in a manner that can impact their effectiveness.
Luckily, several organizations make it easy to get expert help on car seat installation before you bring your bundle of joy home. Check SafeKids.org for locations on getting your car seat checked by experts. You can also check your community for local car seat check events.
Do Not Seat Children Near Airbags
Airbags have saved thousands of lives, but they can actually do more harm than good for some vehicle passengers. If an airbag deploys, the impact can be too strong to be safe for children. Airbags can injure and even kill children riding in the front passenger seat.
Do not place rear-facing car seats in front of an airbag. Never let children under the age of 12 sit in the front seat. If you cannot avoid putting a child in the front seat, disable the airbag if you have the option.
Always Restrain Children
It does not matter how long or short the ride will be. Always restrain your child when in the car. Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every ride. Set a good example for your children by always wearing your seat belt.
While fewer than 1 in 10 people fail to use a seatbelt regularly, nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities are people who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Buckling up keeps you secure inside your vehicle; unrestrained passengers and drivers are much more likely to be totally ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is nearly always deadly.
- Airbags are intended to be used with seatbelts rather than instead of them. In fact, the force of an airbag has the potential to kill you if you are not buckled up.
- Wearing a seatbelt improperly, such as putting the strap under your arm, also puts adults and children alike at higher risk in a crash.
The Benefits of Buckling Up
Want some more statistics on the importance of buckling up? Buckling up in the front seat of a passenger car reduces your risk of fatal injury by 45% and your risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%. Buckling up in a light truck reduces your risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate to critical injury by 65%.
Injured in a Car Crash? Contact a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
If you or your child have been injured or killed in a car crash that was not your fault, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at SteinLaw for a free consultation. You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries or the death of your child.