September 16-22 is Child Passenger Safety Week in Florida
Governor Rick Scott has declared September next week Child Passenger Safety Week in Florida and September 22nd as National Seat Check Saturday, calling upon all parents and caregivers to exercise responsibility to keep America’s children safe by helping to reduce injuries and deaths by buckling up themselves and their children “every trip, every time.”
All 50 states require the use of car seats for children younger than 5. The proper use of car seats has been recognized to reduce the risk of deaths in car accidents by 71 percent by babies younger than 1 and by 54 percent for children between the ages of 1 and 4.
Florida, however, is one of only two states, South Dakota being the other hold-out, which does NOT require the use of booster seats for children between the ages of 4 and 7. Despite legislation being proposed during the past two legislative sessions, the bill has not found adequate support from the members of the Florida House and Senate to make it to a floor vote.
Safety experts such as Safe Kids USA, AAA, The National Child Passenger Safety Board, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) agree that too many children and using just the car’s seat belt too soon. Adult safety belts are not meant to fit children; they are made for adults who are at least 4’9” tall.
Children who have outgrown their 5 point harness car seat by weight or height should use a booster seat until they reach 4’9” (typically between the ages of 8-12). However, many parents and caregivers skip this very important step and allow a child to use only a seat belt.
A booster seat “boosts” a child up and allows for proper placement of the lap and shoulder belt, which is crucial for safety during a crash. When seated correctly, a lap belt should cross over the lower hips/upper thighs and the shoulder belt should cross over the shoulder/collar bone. This simple “boost,” however, literally moves the child into a much safer position in the vehicle and allows the seat belt to provide substantially more protection against injury or death than the seat belt alone.
A $35 High Back booster seat can keep children out of the hospitalsaving Florida Families heartache and worry. Hospitalization costs associated with children in a car crash using adult safety belts without a booster seat contribute to approximately $2500 in medical costs per child.
Florida child passenger safety laws lag behind other states. The Florida Booster Seat Coalition is working to pass a booster seat law that would bring Florida up to the recommended standards.
Parents and caregivers should urge your local legislatures to support and vote for this bill when it presented during the legislative session in 2013.
You can get FREE booster seat information and growth charts for distribution to families from AAA and its Traffic Safety Foundation, showing how using the right seat at the right time can save lives. Contact Michele Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.