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News Section: State Government

Florida Legislature Ups Child Seatbelt Requirement

Published Friday, May 2, 2014

BRADENTON – Florida lawmakers passed legislation this week requiring children to be properly restrained through age five. Florida has had the weakest child passenger safety law in the country with children four and older essentially treated as adults, with the only requirement being that they wear a seatbelt.

AAA applauded the legislation.

"Safety belts are designed for adults and do not fit properly on young children," said Kevin Bakewell, Sr. Vice President AAA Public Affairs. "AAA is pleased that state legislators are taking action to protect children by requiring they be properly restrained in an appropriate safety seat."

Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. Currently 48 states require children to be restrained in a booster seat once they have outgrown their car seat. This is the fourteenth year AAA and many other stakeholders advocated for this change.

“While this legislation does not cover all children who need to be restrained, it is a step in the right direction,” said Bakewell. ”It is difficult to comprehend why the bill has not passed in previous years.  Protecting our children is basic Traffic Safety 101. On matters of public safety, Florida's parents look to public policy for solid guidance. That's why improving this law is so important."

AAA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that children who have outgrown their five point harness car seat by weight or height use a booster seat until they reach the height of 4’9” (typically between the ages of 8-12).

A booster seat simply “boosts” a child up and allows for proper placement of the lap and shoulder belt, which is crucial for safety during a crash.

Without a booster seat, safety belts improperly cross over a child’s soft stomach and neck which can lead to serious debilitating injuries in the event of a crash. Use of booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent compared to using an adult safety belt alone.

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While I strongly disagree with the legislature's refusal to use local tax money already paid to the federal government to expand Medicaid, leaving over one million Floridians without cost-effective access to health care, I am proud of this decision, better protecting children, as well as, 2014 legislation to protect children from the sex trade. I remain deeply concerned about failure to do more to protect our invaluable water.
Posted by Nancy R Dean on May 4, 2014

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