While failing to use a child safety seat altogether is both dangerous and unlawful, what the Automobile Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC find even more concerning is that nearly three-quarters of children that are secured in a safety seat, are not buckled in properly. What this tells us is that although many parents are indeed making a valid effort to protect their children and abide by the law, they are either not using the right type of car seat, or the proper seat is being used, but in an improper manner.
Appropriate Seat Choice.
In selecting the proper restraint device, it is important to consider the child’s: (1) Age; (2) Height; and (3) Weight. Other factors may need to be taken into consideration, depending upon the specific needs of a child. For example, where the child has learned how to unlatch the restraint device or wiggle out of the harness or safety straps, a more secure device may be needed. This is particularly important when the child has a known tendency to free themselves from restraint devices. Although it may be necessary to purchase multiple seats in the carrier and/or booster stages, ensuring the safety of our most precious cargo should always takes precedence.
Proper Installation & Use.
When installing and utilizing a child restraint device, there are several factors that should be considered, including:
- Seat direction
- Location of Airbags
- Harness/ Strap Tightness/Tension
- Seatbelt Adjustment/ Use of locking clips, keeping in mind the:
- child’s size
- restraint device being used; and
- vehicle type
Other Device-related issues.
Purchasing or using a previously-owned car or booster seat is never recommended, and for several reasons. Examples of safety concerns include: (1) broken seats; (2) product recalls due to defects; and (3) seats involved in prior accidents. In situations where a previously owned restraint device is used, parents can ensure device safety by:
- Having the seat inspected at an approved seat-check location; and
- Routinely checking for consumer product recalls, through official sources such as recalls.gov.
Minimum Requirements pursuant to State Law versus Child Safety.
Although Florida only requires the use of child restraint devices for children through the age of 5, the safety benefits of using a booster seat extend far beyond a child reaching 6 years of age. In fact, the use of restraint devices in children aged 6 or older, although not required by law, can be vital to ensuring the child’s optimal safety, depending on their size, height, weight, or other factors. As provided in FLHSMV’s Child Safety Seat Brochure, the following guidelines should be adhered to whenever traveling with a child in your vehicle:
|Age, Weight, Height Range||Safety Recommendations|
|Birth (any weight)-through-1 year old (20 lbs)||
|1 years old (20+ lbs)-through-4 years old (40 lobs)||
|4 years old (40+ lbs)-through-8 years (4’9’’ tall)||
|8 years old or 4’9’’ tall-through-12 years||