Legislation to toughen booster seat laws in Florida

Updated: Thursday, April 24 2014, 06:17 PM CDT
Legislation to toughen booster seat laws in Florida story image
Florida has the most lenient child booster seat laws in the country. 
But now after a decade long battle they could get tougher.
   
Jo Davis buckles her four-year old niece Rae-lynn into a booster seat after a day at the park.  Florida law only requires a booster seat for kids 3 and under.  Davis says that's not enough.

Jo Davis/Booster Seat Advocate
"A child who's five or even eight needs more constraint. They're smaller."
A bill that would boost the age requirement from 3 years and younger to 5 years and younger passed its final committee Thursday.

Matt Galka Standup
Supporters of the bill say that the seatbelt is fine for adults like me, but when younger children get in the car, the seatbelt goes across their neck and not their chest, and that could cause injury.

The Center for Disease Control says a booster seat can cut the risk of serious injury for 4 to 8 year olds nearly in half compared to a seatbelt. Children's advocate Mary-Lynn Cullen has been fighting for stricter legislation for years.

Mary-Lynn Cullen/Advocacy Institute for Children
"What we're going to do with this bill when it does pass is save lives and horrible injuries for children next year."

Senator Denise Grimsley was the only member to vote "no"
Sen. Denise Grimsley/(R) Sebring, FL
"I just feel like as a parent I can make the decision about whether my child can ride in the car seat or not."

Senate Sponsor Anitere Flores understands the argument. But keeping kids safe is her bottom line

Sen. Anitere Flores/(R) Miami
"It's taken some time because I think there's folks that are fearful of further government intrusion into their lives but when we're talking about the safety of our children nothing could be more important."

The House unanimously passed similar legislation Wednesday.  It's an indication the Senate won't have a rough ride on the floor with their bill.

31 states require children to be in a booster seat through age 7.
 Florida is the only state that requires the law through age 3.

Legislation to toughen booster seat laws in Florida
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