News Release: AAA
Tampa, Fla. – Florida has the weakest child passenger safety law in the country. Current law only requires children up to three years old be secured in a car seat. Children ages four and older are treated like full-grown adults. Their only requirement is that they wear a safety belt.
"Safety belts are designed for adults and do not fit properly on young children," said Kevin Bakewell, AAA – The Auto Club Group, Sr. Vice President . "AAA is calling for state legislators to take action and support legislation that would protect children by requiring they be properly restrained in an appropriate safety seat through age seven."
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 car seats. Rep. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) and Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) have filed legislation to improve Florida’s outdated child passenger safety law.
“We applaud the legislators who have sponsored and co-sponsored the legislation and are hopeful the full legislature will vote in favor of this measure, said Bakewell. ”It’s difficult to comprehend why the bill has not passed in previous years – protecting our children is basic Traffic Safety 101. On matters of public safety, Florida's parents look to public policy for solid guidance. That's why improving this law is so important."
AAA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and 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 reach the height of 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 cross over a child’s soft stomach and neck which can lead to serious debilitating injuries. Use of booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent compared to using an adult safety belt alone.
The legislation has been filed in both the House and Senate. The bill has not been heard in committee. This will be the fourteenth year AAA and many other stakeholders advocate for this change. Currently 48 states require children to be restrained in a booster seat once they have outgrown their car seat.
For more information or to get involved visit AAA.com/getinvolved.