“Safety First.” As a parent, you’re wise to live by this motto, even if it consumes your every waking hour. But what happens when your idea of safety is based on old laws, improper techniques, and a general lack of knowledge? That’s the case for thousands of parents every year both here in South Florida and across the country.
In a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of over 4000 vehicles, they found that overall car seat and booster seat misuse—in this case, misuse is defined by improper installation of a car seat or restraint of a child in a car seat—made up nearly 50% of all cases. Given one child per vehicle, that equates to approximately 2000 infants, toddlers, and children put in immediate danger. Infants who’ve yet to smile. Toddlers who’ve never read their first book. Children who’ve barely thought about what they want to be when they grow up.
It’s a terrifying statistic, we know. That’s why we’d like to give parents in South Florida the resources they need to keep their children safe. As was the case with seatbelt laws increasing seatbelt usage rates over the last decade, we hope that raising awareness of the newest Florida car seat laws will do the same.
Changes to Florida’s Child Car Seat Laws Began in 2015
Laws of physics may be permanent, but car seat laws certainly aren’t—and they changed as recently as 2015 in Florida, making the Sunshine State the 49th in the country to enact such child-safety laws. So what do you need to know to keep your kiddo safe the next time you run an errand or take a trip to the beach?
Laws before 2015 required children aged 4 and up to be restrained by a seatbelt only. Now, any child under 6 years of age must be restrained properly in a federally approved child car seat. In this instance, a federally approved child restraint system or car seat includes any crash-tested infant, convertible, and booster seats, as well as a vehicle’s built-in seat.
For children who are too tall or heavy for a child-safety seat, a booster seat is the ideal choice until they are at least 6 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) even recommends that children under the age of twelve and who are shorter than 4-foot 9-inches tall should use a booster seat.
The AAP also advises the following:
- Toddlers up to age 2 should be positioned in a rear-facing car seat, or until they reach the maximum weight and height as recommended by the seat’s manufacturer.
- Toddlers older than age 2 can transition to a forward-facing safety seat with a harness.
- A booster seat should be positioned so that the seatbelt rests on the child’s chest and shoulder, not near the neck or face.
- All children, no matter their weight or height, should ride in the rear seat until they’re at least 13 years old.
According to the new Florida law, any failure to provide adequate safety to a child could result in a hefty fine and points against your license, let alone the inherent risk of injury or death during a collision.
Car Seat Installation and LATCH
Vehicles with LATCH systems have been proven to reduce injury and fatality to children restrained in car seats. As of 2002, just about every vehicle manufactured in the U.S., including all new Honda models, comes with LATCH. But having LATCH and properly installing your car seat are not one and the same.
To properly install your car seat, you should first read its instruction manual. Easier said than done, we know. If you’re having difficulty with installation, you can have your car seat inspected and properly installed by a qualified expert. Just search for a nearby participating South Florida location.
Here are some helpful tidbits of information about LATCH anchors:
- All forward-facing car seats should utilize the top tether anchors. These anchors can be found behind the rear seat or on the ceiling.
- Straps should be taut, and any remaining length of fabric should be concealed to prevent further injury in the event of an accident.
- Even if using the seat belt, your child seat should be connected to both left and right lower LATCH anchors for added security. These anchors can be found between seat cushions in a sedan and on the floor in most hatchbacks, SUVs, and minivans.
- Lower anchors are rated to provide security for a maximum weight of 65 pounds, so be sure you’re following height and weight restrictions for your car seat to maximize your child’s safety.
More information about LATCH installation and general child-safety seats can be found at www.healthychildren.org/.
Trust in Honda’s Safety Technology
As technology improves across the board, so too do vehicle safety features. When you buy any of our new Honda models, such as the beloved Honda CR-V or Pilot, you’ll be awarded the following:
- ACE™ Body Structure
- Dual-Stage Airbags & Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags
- Available SmartVent® Airbags
- Optional Multi-Angle Rearview Camera
- The Acclaimed Honda Sensing Suite, with options such as Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control
Paired with proper car seat installation, your Honda should give you and your family the utmost protection. Drive with confidence—drive with Honda.
For more information about our newest Honda models and their safety features, don’t hesitate to contact a South Florida Honda Dealers location. Your local South Florida car dealerships have a large selection of vehicles and money-saving Honda special offers near Port St. Lucie, Miami, West Palm Beach, and other nearby cities.