TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Florida parents are currently required to keep their children in booster or car seats until they are five.
For a decade, the federal government has recommended age seven be the cutoff, but even a compromise to raise the age to six has fallen on deaf ears at the Capitol.
Raising the age from five to six for kids to be in car or booster seats is supported by science.
“In an accident, all of the deceleration goes against the strongest parts of the body,” said Dave Cullen with the Advocacy Institute for Children.
The CDC says nearly half of all child auto deaths aged eight to 12 were because they were not restrained. The rate falls to 36 percent for kids four to seven.
While few oppose the idea, at least publicly raising the age from five to six has languished for nearly a decade, even though six is one year less than federal recommendations.
Cullen explained the argument opponents have used against the legislation.
“Children are their parents’ responsibility. And it is the parents ability to have freedom to do whatever they want with their children,” said Cullen.
The Senate is already moving quickly to pass the legislation down to the more reluctant House, where it has died in years past.
Senate sponsor Keith Perry is optimistic.
“Talk to the trauma surgeons and the trauma doctors and they tell you about how easily this injury could have been prevented,” said Perry.
He said the biggest challenge will be educating parents if the age is raised.
“It’s more to inform the parents. Hey, we’ve done the research, we’ve done the studying. This is good for you and good for your kid.,” said Perry.
Perry also pointed out child restraints are available from private organizations for parents who face financial constraints.
Violating the state’s current child seat requirements could cost parents a $60 fine plus court costs.
The fine will not change if the bill becomes law.