Senate advances bill boosting booster seat requirements

"a simple, common sense safety measure that will save countless lives.”

Florida parents might want to hang on to their car seats for an extra year.

 A bill sponsored by Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry would require children to buckle up in booster seats until their sixth birthday.

Current law requires parents to wait until their children are 5 years old before letting them strap in the same way as adults.

“Studies have shown that when child safety seats are used correctly, they can reduce fatal injuries by over 70 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers,” Perry said.

“Extending the protection of booster seats through the age of six is a simple, common sense safety measure that will save countless lives.”

On Tuesday, SB 476 went before the Infrastructure and Security Committee and earned unanimous vote from the eight Senators on the panel.

While the booster seat requirement is based on the age of a child, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says parents should keep their kid’s height top-of-mind.

NTSA recommends waiting until a child is 57 inches tall — the average height of an 8-year-old — before making the switch.

The AAA and the Junior Leagues of Florida, both of which are backing the bill, agreed.

“Safety belts are designed for adults and do not fit properly on young children,” said Karen Morgan of AAA. “AAA is calling for state legislators to take action and support legislation that would protect children by requiring they be properly restrained in an appropriate safety seat through age six.

“Protecting our children is basic Traffic Safety 101. On matters of public safety, Florida’s parents look to public policy for solid guidance. That’s why improving this law is so important.”

Junior Leagues of Florida Chair Tracy Deen added, “The Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee has been advocating for issues of importance to Floridians for 45 years.

“Since 2001, we have supported legislation designed to protect Florida’s children by securing them safely with booster seats. We are proud to continue that tradition today by supporting the efforts to extend booster seat protection to 6-year-olds.”

SB 476 now heads to the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. The House companion bill, HB 567, hasn’t been taken up in committee.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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