There’s a new plan to keep children in booster seats longer.
“It was actually around this time last year that my wife and I were in a very significant car crash. We were rear-ended by another vehicle,” said Mark Jenkins, Florida AAA spokesman.
His first thought was are the children safe?
“The first thing I did was swing open the back door just to make sure they weren’t in there. Because if my kids were in that car, they could have been killed,” Jenkins said.
Fortunately, his children weren’t in the car, but hundreds of other families experience that pain every year.
Car accidents are the number one cause of death for children one to thirteen years old.
“Florida law requires that children right now be in a booster seat until they’re age 6 years old. And AAA frankly doesn’t feel like that’s a strong enough law,” Jenkins said.
“Other states actually have a higher law, or they even have a weight law. Here in Florida, it’s just up until their birthday,” said Sally Kreuscher, Safe Kids coordinator with Golisano Children’s Hospital.
There is a new push to fix that.
Senate Bill 380 raises the age children are required to use boosters or car seats up until their seventh birthday.
And while it’s progress, Kreuscher said there’s more to it than just age.
“Some 5-year-olds could be small and petite, or some 5-year-olds might be tall and larger. So we really want to talk about what fits them best. And that really isn’t an age all the time,” Kreuscher said. “It’s really about their height, their weight, how does the seat belt fit them.”
“If you have kids that are moving into an adult seat belt too soon, then they can suffer pretty significant injuries just from the crash from that seat belt itself,” Jenkins said.
But the experts agree, any step forward is progress.
“Just moving that age limit up to one year could be extremely vital in saving a child’s life,” Kreuscher said.