BY JENNIFER CABRERA / OCTOBER 15, 2019
A bill sponsored by Keith Perry received unanimous support in the Florida Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee today. SB 158 would require children to ride in booster seats until they are at least 6; current law requires the use of booster seats until the age of 5. The requirement is waived if children are being transported without charge by someone who is not a member of the child’s immediate family, if it’s a medical emergency, or if the child has a medical condition that necessitates an exemption.
“Seat belts are not designed for children, and extending the protection of booster seats is a common sense safety measure that will help protect Florida’s most vulnerable passengers,” Senator Perry said. “I look forward to working with Representative Beltran on this transformative piece of legislation that aims to protect children from serious injury and save countless lives.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children remain in booster seats until a seat belt can be worn properly, which occurs when an individual reaches 57 inches, the average height of eight-year-olds.
According to the CDC, use of a booster seat reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4-8 years, when compared with seat belt use alone.
Karen Morgan, from AAA, said, “Seat belts are designed for adults and do not typically fit children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall. Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash. This legislation will protect children traveling on Florida roadways.”
The bill must still go to the Infrastructure and Security and Rules committees for approval before it can be brought up for a vote. If passed, the law will be effective July 1, 2020.
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