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Car Seat Safety

by Brandy D. Rood, Esquire

When is it safe to transition to a forward-facing carseat?

 

As a mom of an 11-month old sweet baby boy, I started doing research on when it safe to change him to a forward-facing carseat. It seems like every mom on social media saw the picture stating that every state changed their law to require that children remain rear-facing until they are 2-years-old. However, after researching Florida laws, that is not true in our state. The Florida law regarding child restraints is so incredibly vague about the safety of our children.

 

Since Florida law is so vague about the safety of our children in vehicles, it remains on each of us as parents, grandparents, and guardians to make smart and educated decisions regarding the use of carseats for our family. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have made policies that are more detailed regarding ages, heights, and weights that prompt you that it’s time to change your child’s carseat.

 

The AAP recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing carseat until they are 2 years-old or until they have reached the weight and height limits of the carseat. Once your child is 2 years-old or has outgrown their rear-facing carseat, the AAP recommends that the toddler sit in a forward-facing carseat with harness straps until they reach the height and weight limits of that carseat. Most convertible carseats have weight limits up to 65-80 pounds. The AAP then recommends that the child move to a belt-positioning booster seat when they reach the weight and height limits for the harnesses on their forward-facing carseats. The AAP recommends that the child not move to a regular seatbelt until they are 4’9’’ and between 8-12 years old.

 

If you follow the AAP and NHTSA recommendations, you will be in compliance with Florida law. Florida law requires that children under 3 years-old be in a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. Although Florida law requires that children under 3 be in a separate carrier, it does not indicate at what age children are safe to transition to a forward-facing carseat. An integrated child seat is one that is built into the car and there are many disadvantages to these. Emergency personnel often prefer to remove a child in a separate carseat because it keeps the child immobilized in case of head/spinal injury and may allow for safer transport in the ambulance.Additionally, children are safest rear-facing and integrated seats do not function rear-facing and do not usually have any form of side impact protection. 

 

Florida law recently changed in 2015 to require that children ages 4-5 be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat, or a child booster. Before 2015, children 4-5 could wear a seatbelt only.

 

Surprisingly, Florida has made the child restraint requirement inapplicable to multiple forms of transportation including a school bus, a bus used for the transportation of people for compensation, a truck having a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds (presumably an RV), or a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle.

 

In 2015, there were nearly 375,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state of Florida, accounting for nearly 250,000 injuries. With so many car accidents happening everyday and all around us, it is so important that we keep our children as safe as possible. Following these very simple recommendations can reduce the risk of injury to our children in the unfortunate occurrence of a car accident.

 

If you or somebody you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our firm today to speak to an attorney.

 

 

 

When is it safe to transition to a forward-facing carseat?

As a mom of an 11-month old sweet baby boy, I started doing research on when it safe to change him to a forward-facing carseat. It seems like every mom on social media saw the picture stating that every state changed their law to require that children remain rear-facing until they are 2-years-old. However, after researching Florida laws, that is not true in our state. The Florida law regarding child restraints is so incredibly vague about the safety of our children.

Since Florida law is so vague about the safety of our children in vehicles, it remains on each of us as parents, grandparents, and guardians to make smart and educated decisions regarding the use of carseats for our family. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have made policies that are more detailed regarding ages, heights, and weights that prompt you that it’s time to change your child’s carseat.

The AAP recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing carseat until they are 2 years-old or until they have reached the weight and height limits of the carseat. Once your child is 2 years-old or has outgrown their rear-facing carseat, the AAP recommends that the toddler sit in a forward-facing carseat with harness straps until they reach the height and weight limits of that carseat. Most convertible carseats have weight limits up to 65-80 pounds. The AAP then recommends that the child move to a belt-positioning booster seat when they reach the weight and height limits for the harnesses on their forward-facing carseats. The AAP recommends that the child not move to a regular seatbelt until they are 4’9’’ and between 8-12 years old.

If you follow the AAP and NHTSA recommendations, you will be in compliance with Florida law. Florida law requires that children under 3 years-old be in a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. Although Florida law requires that children under 3 be in a separate carrier, it does not indicate at what age children are safe to transition to a forward-facing carseat. An integrated child seat is one that is built into the car and there are many disadvantages to these. Emergency personnel often prefer to remove a child in a separate carseat because it keeps the child immobilized in case of head/spinal injury and may allow for safer transport in the ambulance.Additionally, children are safest rear-facing and integrated seats do not function rear-facing and do not usually have any form of side impact protection. 

Florida law recently changed in 2015 to require that children ages 4-5 be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat, or a child booster. Before 2015, children 4-5 could wear a seatbelt only.

Surprisingly, Florida has made the child restraint requirement inapplicable to multiple forms of transportation including a school bus, a bus used for the transportation of people for compensation, a truck having a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds (presumably an RV), or a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle.

In 2015, there were nearly 375,000 motor vehicle accidents in the state of Florida, accounting for nearly 250,000 injuries. With so many car accidents happening everyday and all around us, it is so important that we keep our children as safe as possible. Following these very simple recommendations can reduce the risk of injury to our children in the unfortunate occurrence of a car accident.

If you or somebody you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our firm today to speak to an attorney.

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