A new Florida law has just raised the age for child restraint device use in motor vehicles. Once a child outgrows their infant car seat, they must ride either in a larger seat with a 5-point harness or a booster seat—until their sixth birthday. Under the previous law, only children under the age of three were required to use a car seat.
Under Florida Statutes §316.613, a seat belt alone is sufficient for a 4 or 5 year old if the child:
- Is being transported by someone not in his or her immediate family
- Is being transported in a chauffeur-driven vehicle if the operator and the vehicle are being compensated for this service
- Is being transported in a medical emergency
- Has a medical condition, as evidenced by documentation from a health care professional, that necessitates an exception the general rule
Child restraint devices are not required on school buses, public buses, farm tractors, trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.
The CDC cites the failure to buckle up, drunk driving and incorrect use of child restraint devices as the greatest risk factors in child auto accident injury and death.
Failure to buckle up
A significant number of children who have died in car crashes in recent years were not buckled up – 25% of infants under the age of 1, one-third of 1-7 year-olds, and 45% of 8-12 year-olds may well have survived if they had been property restrained.
Approximately 20% of passenger deaths among children under the age of 15 were the fault of someone driving under the influence; 65% of those children were passengers in the car with the drunk driver.
Incorrect use of child restraint devices
If a child restraint device is used incorrectly, for example, where a rear-facing seat is placed in front of an airbag or is otherwise improperly secured, the rate of child injury or death increases substantially. Note that improper installation due a confusing instruction manual may be grounds for a products liability lawsuit.
Defective car seat deaths
In recent years, defective car seats have injured or killed children due to:
- Poor construction
- Harness, latch and handle defects
- Use of flammable materials
- Separation of infant carrier from the base
- Overall manufacturer neglect and/or failure to meet industry standards and regulations
Consumers can search for all child car seat recalls, complaints and investigations online at safercar.gov, a website sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If your child has been injured or killed in a Florida car accident, contact an experienced auto accident attorney immediately.
If you have any questions on this blog or need information on other personal injury queries, please call the Law offices of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath located in West Palm Beach at 1-800 4-RIGHTS (1-800- 474-4487) We welcome your call and look forward to helping you.