February 1, 2013: What a tragic story that I read today on jacksonville.com. Two toddlers who were not properly secured were taken to Shands Jacksonville for serious injuries after a Thursday night crash involving six vehicles on Southside Boulevard. The children were in a Cadillac SRX, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. They was southbound on Southside Boulevard just before Ivey Road about 7 p.m. when the driver lost control for unknown reasons and traveled into the northbound lanes. The Cadillac struck the left rear of a Tundra, then hit a BMW head-on. The BMW was sent into the southbound lanes and smashed head-on into a Honda Civic.The car behind the Civic, a Toyota Prius, smashed into the rear of the Civic and was in turn rear-ended by a Honda Accord, the FHP said. The two toddlers were not the only ones injured in this accident. Several people in the various vehicles were injured and required treatment at local hospitals. The FHP says charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.
It is shocking to realize how many children are injured as a result of improper restraints or lack of restraints while riding in a vehicle. In the United States during 2009, 1,314 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 179,000 were injured. One CDC study found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time. More than two-thirds of fatally injured children were killed while riding with a drinking driver. Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.
- Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years.
- There is strong evidence that child safety seat laws, safety seat distribution and education programs, community-wide education and enforcement campaigns, and incentive-plus-education programs are effective in increasing child safety seat use.
- Florida Statute 316.613 is the Florida Child Safety Seat Law and it has very specific requirements regarding the proper use of child restraints and seat-belts. Florida law requires that all kids under 5 years of age be restrained no matter where they are seated in a car or truck. Children 3 and younger must be secured in a federally approved child-restraint seat.
Children ages 4-5 must be secured by either a federally approved child restraint seat or safety belt. Infants should ride rear-facing in a back seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until they have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat. Violation of Florida’s Child Restraint Law carries a fine of $60 and 3 points on your driving record. In lieu of the penalty specified of money and points, the driver who violates Florida’s child seat law can with the Judge’s approval, participate in a child restraint safety program. After successful completion of the program, the points and costs may be waived at the Judge’s discretion.
For additional helpful links on child safety in vehicles, go to Florida DMV Online Guide: Florida Seatbealt laws
or Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Child Passenger Safety & Occupant Protection
What to do if you are injured in an Auto Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact Edwards & Ragatz, P.A. today. Our attorneys have the skills, experience and resources to effectively advocate on your behalf. We are dedicated to representing the rights of individuals and families who have been injured in car or truck accidents anywhere in Florida or Georgia. Download a free copy of our Auto Accident Glovebox Brochure to keep in your vehicle. It contains information on what to do if you are in an accident and space for you to write down any pertinant information.