Every year throughout Florida there are thousands of car accidents, which cause thousands of injuries to drivers and occupants and result in numerous fatalities. Despite the frequency of car accidents in the state and throughout the country, many drivers and passengers fail to use a seat belt or improperly use a restraint device.

According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2013, there were 402 fatalities in Florida involving drivers who did not wear a seat belt. Furthermore, another 1,088 suffered serious, incapacitating injuries. Had the drivers been wearing restraint devices, it is quite possible that their lives could have been saved or injuries could have been significantly reduced.

For children, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children up to the age of 2 be placed into a rear-facing car seat and children from 2 up to the age of 5 be placed in a forward-facing car seat. After the age of 5, a booster seat should be used with a seat belt until the seat belt fits properly without the use of a booster. Improper use of the correct child restraint device for a child is a major risk factor. Recognizing this danger, the Florida legislature recently took steps to protect children.

Florida Tightens Child-Restraint Law

Last year, the Florida legislature revised the child restraint device requirement, and the safety belt authorization, for children aged 4 through 5 who are being transported in a motor vehicle.

Under the revised law, children under the age of 5 have to be transported in a crash-tested, federally approved child-restraint device. Under the previous law, for children aged 4 to 5, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a seat belt could have been used.

The new law removes the exception allowing the use of a seat belt and requires the use of a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a booster seat for a child aged 4 to 5. There, are, however certain exceptions to the new law. Notably, a seat belt may be used for children between 4 and 5 years of age:

  • when the motor vehicle operator is not a member of the child’s immediate family and the child is being transported either gratuitously;
  • in the case of an emergency; or
  • when a medical condition necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a health professional.

The law took effect on the first of the year. A driver who violates the law is subject to a $60 fine, court costs and add-ons, and having three points assessed against his or her driver’s license.

Contact a Brandon, Florida Car Accident Attorney

Reed & Reed employs a team of experienced car accident attorneys who can help protect your rights to make sure you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our Florida car accident attorneys have experience prosecuting all types of car accident claims. From our office in Brandon, we help clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida. Contact Reed & Reed for a free consultation.