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New Car Seat Law Starts Jan. 1

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Mary Shedden
The Florida Channel
Petra Vybiralova, left, is a program supervisor at the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition. She checks out a car seat with trainer Peggy Klimek.

Florida is about to increase the age requirement for children riding in car seats.

As of Thursday, the law requires five-point restraints until a child's sixth birthday. That's two years more that kids need to wait before moving into a booster seat.

Petra Vybiralova  is a program supervisor at the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition. She says the law may help lower the number of deaths and injuries.

"There’s significant long-term research that car seats have saved many, many lives," she said during a recent parent training at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Sobering statistics are behind the law. Crashes killed 650 children in the U.S. in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 148,000 were injured.

Vybiralova says parents also need to make sure restraints are in the back seat and installed correctly.

"Just having a car seat does not mean the child will not get injure,” she said. “If the car seat is not being used correctly, there can be too much movement in a crash and therefore too much movement on some important parts of the body like the brain."

The Safe Kids Coalition of Florida provides in-person training and a telephone help line year round to help answer questions about installing car seats correctly.

Mary Shedden is part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa. Contact her at (813) 974-8636, on Twitter @MaryShedden, or email at Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.