Children are undoubtedly the most precious cargo that parents carry in their automobiles. Nevertheless, improper usage of child restraint systems needlessly injures thousands of children on Florida's roads each year. While some of these injuries are caused by clear violations of Florida's car seat law, advocates for broader car seat laws claim that many of the injuries occur because Florida's car seat law doesn't go far enough.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation's car seat laws:
Thus, under the Florida car seat law, children over 3 years old may ride in a vehicle using a standard adult safety belt. The problem with this according to advocates is that most children under 80 pounds are too small for an adult seat belt. Adult seat belts can actually be dangerous to children because the belt cuts directly across their neck instead of snug across the center of their shoulder. This can lead to serious injury or even death in the event of an accident.
So what's a safety-conscious parent to do? Car seat safety advocates recommend that Floridians follow one of the following guidelines:
If your child resists using a belt-positioning booster, experts recommend the following:
In the end, the Florida car seat law should be viewed as a starting point for any child's traveling safety. Parents should take into consideration their child's unique height, weight, and other attributes that may impact their use of standard, adult seat belts. And if you have any doubts about what's the right thing to do, simply err on the side of caution. After all, you're protecting your most precious cargo.
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