The injury of a child can be the most traumatic experience a parent and family will ever have to go through—both emotionally and financially. Sadly, car accidents still cause the worst, most devastating injuries for children throughout our nation every year. Because of this—and in light of National Baby Safety Month and being that it is Child Passenger Safety Week—we would like to discuss ways to keep children safe and secure as occupants in vehicles.

How Parents Can Help Protect Their Children From Traffic Injuries

It is important that parents pay full attention to the road and not drive distracted, intoxicated, or drowsy. When parents focus on the task at hand—driving—they can play a key role in protecting their children from being involved in a crash. However, even the most careful parent can be involved in a motor vehicle collision as a result of someone else’s negligence and recklessness on the road. As a result, parents need to know what else they can do to protect their children from motor vehicle injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the best ways parents can help keep their children safe from traffic injuries is to make sure they are using the proper car seat or booster seat for their child’s age, height, and weight, including:

  • Rear-facing car seat. This type of car seat is recommended from birth to age two; however, Florida law only requires parents to keep their infants in this type of car seat from birth to age one or until the infant reaches 20 pounds. Because research shows that the best possible protection for infants is to be in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat, it is best that parents keep their children in this type of safety seat until children reach the weight and height limits spelled out in the car seat owner’s manual.
  • Forward-facing car seat. Toddlers and children from age two to five should be restrained in a forward-facing safety seat until they reach the weight and height limits stated in the owner’s manual.
  • Booster seat. When a child outgrows his or her forward-facing car seat, he or she can graduate into a booster seat. Florida law requires that children under 4’ 9” and weighing between 40 – 80 pounds ride in a booster seat. Booster seats bring children up to the right height so that seat belts fit properly across children’s chests and thighs.
  • Seat belt. For best protection, children should be left in booster seats until seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts shouldn’t rest across the neck and stomach. Instead, the proper placement of a seat belt will sit across a child’s chest and across his or her upper thighs.
  • Back seat. Because airbags can seriously injure and even kill children, all children younger than 13-years-old should ride buckled into the back seat of a car.

In order to make sure your child is riding in the correct safety seat and that the car seat is properly secure in the car, we encourage all parents to get their car seats inspected during National Seat Check Saturday, September 20, 2014. Please share this information on Google+ with other parents to help keep children safe on our Sarasota roadways.

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney