Booster Seats Can Help Save Lives...So Why Doesn't Florida Require Them?

August 12, 2010
By Dan Irving Cytryn, Esq. on August 12, 2010 9:25 AM |

We often hear about the importance of car seats to help prevent injuries to children and to keep them safe while traveling in automobiles. However, we don't often hear about the importance of booster seats. When children reach the age of 4 in the state of Florida, parents are no longer required to use car seats, and have the option of using a seat belt, a separate carrier, or a booster seat as a means to keep their children safe. Why are booster seats merely an option when studies show that booster seats are safer than just using seat belts? Earlier this year, a bill that would require the use of booster seats stalled in the Florida Legislature. Opponents of the bill favored education and awareness on booster seats over making it a law. Currently, 47 states in the country require the use of booster seats. The only states without this requirement are South Dakota, Arizona, and Florida.

When children are between the ages of 4 and 8, they are in that gray area where they have outgrown their car seats, but are too small to use a seatbelt. Because seatbelts were designed for larger frames, they do not fit a child properly and can cause injuries known as "seatbelt syndrome" if an auto accident occurs. For example, the lap belt is made to sit on the pelvis of an adult, but on a child, it sits on the abdomen, increasing the risk of abdominal and spinal cord injuries. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, children in this age group who use booster seats are 59 percent less likely to sustain injuries than children who only use seatbelts. Studies from other publications also point to the dangers in only using seat belts for children, as the likelihood of head injuries increases by 4 to 5 times, and abdominal injuries increase by 3 times. It is recommended that children start using seatbelts when they are between 8 and 12 years old and are at least 4'9".

Auto accidents are the number one cause of death for children between 2 and 14 years old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, the likelihood of death in an auto accident decreases by 28 percent for children who are properly restrained. A report by Channel 4 in Jacksonville earlier this year revealed that an alarming 83% of children ages 4 to 8 are restrained using seat belts, not booster seats. It is important for parents and caretakers to learn about the use of booster seats as a way to help prevent injuries to children while riding in motor vehicles. Safe Kids USA, a non-profit organization that provides information on preventing childhood injuries, offers tips on booster seat and seat belt usage.

Dan Irving Cytryn is a Coral Springs car accident lawyer. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and has received a 10.0 rating on AVVO, a lawyer rating service, which is the highest rating given for a lawyer. He is also rated the highest ability and ethics rating, "AV", by Martindale Hubbell, a company rating lawyers for more than 100 years.