Whether driving around town or taking a road trip, keeping your kids safe in the car is your number one priority. Florida has specific laws on what is required to restrain your child while in the car, and it can get overwhelming to the most seasoned adult.
To help ease the stress and honor Child Safety Awareness Month, here is some information to assist in keeping your child safe while in a car.
Car Seat Safety Rules
Your child’s age is the most significant factor in how to safely and legally secure your child in a vehicle. There are special laws in Florida regarding child safety, which are as follows:
- Florida law requires children age five and under to be secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
- Children age three and under must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
- Children aged four through five must be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat, or booster seat.
When selecting the right car seat, first read the labeling, which is required on all car seats. These labels can help you decide which car seat your child will fit in based on stage, weight, and height. Your child needs to be within all the limits for the seat to fit correctly.
If you want help choosing and installing the correct car seat for your car, find a Child Passenger Safety Technician near you. These technicians have taken forty hours of training with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and must continue this education to keep their credentials. To find a technician near you, visit this website.
Seat Belt Guidelines
Once your child outgrows the car seat and booster, it is time for them to use the seat belt. Everyone should buckle up when driving or riding in a car because wearing a seat belt reduces the odds of you being thrown from a vehicle during an accident. It is also Florida law that both the driver and all passengers wear a seat belt.
Drivers can be pulled over in Florida for not having their seat belts on and additional fines can be added to any ticket (speeding, for example) if anyone in the car is not wearing a seat belt. Additionally, children can’t sit in the passenger seat until at least age twelve since deployed front seat airbags can be dangerous for them.
Hold a Car Safety Conversation with Your Children
Your child must know the rules they must follow while riding in a car, whether going a few blocks down the road or on a cross-country road trip. That’s why holding multiple conversations with your children is critical, so safety is always followed in any vehicle. Answering any questions your child may have regarding why car safety is important will help them understand the significance of following these rules.
Tell them that if they are with friends and do not feel safe, it is okay for them not to get in the car. This conversation is especially important as your child enters their teenage years when they might start riding around without you in the car and need to make the right decision for their safety.
Set a Good Example
This suggestion is easy. Set a good example by buckling up every time you are in the car and using car seats when the situation calls for one. Children respond to what they see, not just want they are told. If your child watches you buckle up and make everyone in the car do the same, this will instill good habits regarding car safety.