Florida Car and Booster Seat Laws
March 2, 2022 | Sagi Shaked | Car Accidents
Did you know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.? About 20% of all child deaths are due to motor vehicle collisions. However, you can improve your chances of keeping your child safe by buckling them into age-appropriate car safety seats.
As per the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida law requires that all children aged five and younger be strapped into a crash-tested, federally approved safety seat.
The law further breaks down specifics for children 4-5 years old, who are required to be in a booster seat, integrated child seat, or a separate carrier. Children aged 0-3 must be in a manufacturer-integrated car seat or a separate carrier.
It’s not just having the right kind of car seat that keeps your child safe. How the seat fits into your car, whether it’s anchored correctly, and where you’ve placed the seat also contributes to the effectiveness of its protection.
Child Seat Options
There are a number of different types of child car seats. Many child seats are categorized using both age ranges for the child and height and weight guidelines.
Infant seats are sized for babies weighing up to 22 pounds and 25 inches long. These are intended to be rear-facing seats and are designed to be placed in the back seat of a car. Typically, the sets have a base, which stays in the car, and a detachable carrier that can be strapped into a stroller or used to carry the baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that an infant seat never be placed in a forward-facing position or strapped into the front passenger seat. The rear-facing position will more effectively stabilize the child if there’s a severe impact.
Convertible Child Safety Seats
These seats can be used for both larger infants and toddlers. When an infant is in the seat, it still needs to be rear-facing. Although it’s not mandatory, it’s recommended that you keep your child in a rear-facing position as long as they’re able to fit.
As the child grows, the seat can be moved to a front-facing position, but it should remain in the vehicle’s back seat.
Booster seats are forward-facing and designed to hold the child until they’re old enough and large enough to use adult restraints. Boosters can accommodate a child up to 80 pounds and about 8 years old. Always use the chest and lap belts, never just the lap belt.
Built-In Car Seats
Some manufacturers feature built-in child safety seats for their vehicles. However, be careful when you’re considering these cars and make sure that the seat adheres to federal guidelines for child safety seats. They may not be appropriate for all ages of children.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Florida Child Seat Safety Laws?
If you fail to secure your child in a safety seat as per Florida laws, then you can receive three points on your license and a $60 fine. In addition to state penalties, if you’re in an accident and your child wasn’t in the proper safety seat or wasn’t properly restrained, then your insurance company may not cover the damage.
Observe the Law
While no one wants to get a ticket for having the wrong car seat, the safety of your littlest passengers should be your biggest concern. Your pediatrician can recommend the right seat, and any local fire or police station can help you properly install it in your car.