Florida car seat laws and safety for kids

As parents anywhere can attest, car seats and the laws governing them can be complicated. However, the stress they cause is not in vain. Car seats, when used properly, reduce the risk of death for children in an accident by 70 percent.

Florida’s state car seat and booster laws are minimal, and recommendations are based on the child’s age instead of height and weight.

  • Ages 0-3 – Babies and children from birth to age three must be in a car seat
  • Ages 4-5 – Children must be in a car seat or booster
  • Ages 6-17 – Children and teens must use a seatbelt

However, there are many other factors to consider for maximum protection for kids in the car. Florida state car seat laws do not align with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, which are considered very comprehensive by many experts and parents.

The AAP recommends that babies and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat until they have maxed out the height and weight requirements for the seat, typically past age two. Once they transition to a forward facing seat, children should again max out the height and weight requirements before moving into a booster seat which will position the seat belt across their chest and lap. Some seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds.

Only once a child has reached 4’9” and can sit with the seatbelt positioned correctly should they be allowed to sit without a booster. Typically, the youngest that this could occur is age eight. They should sit in the back seat until at least age 13, because of the dangers of air bag deployment for kids, and always use the lap and chest belts.

Parents and kids alike often look forward to transitioning to the next stage or ditching the booster altogether. However, this is one instance when it is better to hold off on the milestones for as long as possible. Your child’s safety depends on it.