Is It Legal for My Children to Travel in the Front Passenger Seat in Florida?

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This is what you need to know when traveling in Florida with a child:

  • For children from birth to 1-year-old and at least 20 lbs., you should use a rear-facing child car seat until the child outgrows the weight and height limit of the child car seat.
  • For children from 1-year-old and 20 lbs. to 4 years old and 40 lbs., you should use a forward-facing car seat.
  • Children 4 years old and 40 lbs. to 8 years old or 4'9" tall should have a forward-facing booster seat.
  • Children 8 years old to 12 years old or 4'9" tall should have a booster seat until they're big enough to use the car's seat belt.

While rear-facing is much safer for children since it minimizes the risk of neck and head injuries, child restraint requirements under Florida Statutes do not mention how long children are allowed to be rear-facing. If a child is five years of age or younger, parents should provide a:

  • crash-tested
  • federally approved child restraint device

Parents should follow the requirements established by the manufacturers of their car seats, check for car seats and booster seats recalls, and stay up-to-date with the latest safety belts and child restraints laws and safety tips.

Furthermore, under Florida law, everyone is required to use a seat belt or child restraint device when riding in a vehicle, especially children over 12 years old or above 135 cm in height when traveling in front. Florida law regarding safety belts and child restraints also provides that:

  • Motor vehicle drivers, front seat passengers, and all children who are under 18 riding in a vehicle must use safety belts or child restraint devices.
  • An officer can pull over a vehicle simply for observing a safety belt or restraint violation and even issue a fine.
  • Children should ride in the back seats until at least age 12 since deployed front seat airbags can be dangerous.

According to the suggested child car seat guidelines, your child can sit in the front seat of your car at 13 years old, but it's not recommended before this age. One of the reasons is that, when deployed, airbags can be hazardous for those under a certain height and weight.

  • From birth to 13-year-old it's safer for children to travel in the car's back seat.
  • Children who are 13 years old can travel in the front seats only if they are wearing seat belts that are adjusted according to their age and weight.

Also, pay great attention when installing the child seat in the car. In an impact of 9 to 12 mph, a child can be severely injured. Even when wearing a safety belt, a child might suffer injuries that can cause death.

Defective Child Car Seats Can Cause Serious Injuries to Children

In the unfortunate event of being involved in an accident, parents should know that even a minor accident can affect the child's car seat, and they are advised to replace it.

What can happen to a child car seat after a minor car accident:

  • The structural integrity and overall safety of the car seat may be compromised
  • Parts may have been dislodged or loosened

Even if the damage is not visible to the naked eye, it is generally recommended that you replace the safety seat after a car crash.

A seat involved in a car accident may not have distinguishable signs of damage, but it surely will not be as effective in a future car crash. Also, a damaged part of the car seat may endanger your child's life. The car seats should be replaced even if the child was not sitting in them during the accident. The impact during a car crash could cause severe damage to the seat, and if you continue to use it, your kid will likely get hurt at a second impact.

If your child was seriously injured in a car accident and the injuries were caused by manufacturing mistakes or lack of seat installation guidelines, an experienced lawyer can help you build and win a product liability case. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.