Did you know that, this year, we celebrate Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week from September 20-26, 2020? The week is meant to acknowledge the importance of following child passenger safety laws in Florida and across the United States. Child passenger safety laws save the lives of Florida children every day. If you are a parent or you are otherwise regularly transporting children as a caregiver, it can be critical that you understand and follow the laws to ensure your kids stay safe.
Are you aware when a car seat is required for a kid? Child passenger safety laws are constantly evolving. Currently, Florida law requires that all children aged 5 and younger be secured in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. This means either a car seat or a booster seat. For young children aged 3 years old or less, an infant carrier car seat or an integrated child car seat is required. Infants must be rear-facing in the seat, while toddlers can be either rear-facing or forward-facing. For children aged 4 and 5 years old, an integrated child car seat or booster seat is required.
It can be important to understand that these ages are bottom guidelines, not upper limits. Just because your child turns 4 years old, it does not necessarily mean they are automatically ready for a booster seat. It may be safer to keep your 4 or 5 year old child in a regular convertible car seat rather than moving them to a booster seat, especially if they are small for their age.
Many car seat manufacturers have minimum age and weight requirements before you are permitted to move the car seat into a different position. For example, most convertible car seats can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing. Your child should meet a minimum age and weight in order to use the seat forward-facing. Keep in mind that the minimum is just that. If you want to keep your child rear-facing for longer, you can do that.
Additionally, it can be important to have the right car seat for your child. The best car seat can be one in which your child fits well, that is properly secured into the car, and into which the child is properly secured every time you drive. A fancy brand that uses luxury materials may be no safer than a basic brand, provided that both car seats meet the safety guidelines required under the law.
If you have any questions or concerns about being able to properly install your car seat, call your local police or fire department. They often have safe car seat installation days when an officer can show you how to install your seat safely for free. Our office is here to help where we can. Please feel free to give us a call should you need legal counsel.