Vehicle and Child Safety
Child Safety Awareness
Every year, too many children die from easily preventable causes. The department is committed to help increase everyone’s child safety awareness of our most precious cargo as a driver or whenever around vehicles.
On this webpage, you will find information about occupant protection and proper seat restraints, preventing child heatstroke in cars and safety in and around school zones and school buses. At the bottom of the page, you will find more resources such as handouts and useful videos.
Please be sure to read through and share these resources to help ensure the safety of Florida’s children.
Governor Rick Scott has proclaimed September 18 -24, 2016 to be Child Passenger Safety Week. Read more about how to best protect child passengers in the information listed below and how the department promotes Child Passenger Safety Week.
- Buckle up. A seatbelt is your vehicle’s most important safety feature, but it only works if you use it.
- Florida law requires the use of seat belts by drivers of motor vehicles and all children riding in a vehicle under the age of 18.
- Keep children in the back seat, at least through age 12, if possible. Front seat air bags, when deployed, can be dangerous to children.
- A new law effective January 2015 requires children 4 and 5 years of age to ride in a booster seat.
- Learn more
Car Seats and Booster Seats
- Children ages 0-3, such restraint devices must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
- Children ages 4-5, the restraint device should be a separate carrier, an integrated child seat or a child booster seat.
- The best child seat is one that fits your child, fits your car and that drivers will use correctly every time. Read the car seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual when you install a car seat.
- Visit a local FHP station to ask a car-seat certified trooper to help you install your seat.
- Remember to check for car and booster seat recalls.
- Learn more
Never Leave a Child in a Hot Car
- Never leave a child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle. It is extremely hot, especially in Florida during the summer and can result in the child’s injury or death.
- Florida law states that children under six should never be left in a motor vehicle for longer than 15 minutes or for any period of time if the motor is running, the health of the child is in danger or if the child appears to be in distress. A violation of this law is a second degree misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $500. If a child is injured, the violation becomes a third degree felony.
- The Florida Department of Children and Families also has information about keeping your child safe in the summer. Click here for more information.
School Bus Safety
- Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended.
- The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic.
- Motorists should be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.
- At bus stops, children should wait in a safe place away from the road.
- Children should never walk behind a bus.
- For more information, visit the Florida Department of Education’s webpage.
- Remember, Stop on Red, kids ahead!
- Learn more
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
- While on a bicycle, ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
- Always use a headlight and taillight at night.
- Pedestrians should use the sidewalk if there is one; if not, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Always cross streets where pedestrians are expected, such as corners and crosswalks.
- And be visible. Wear bright and reflective colors on your clothes, shoes and/or wristbands.
- Learn more
- Walk around your vehicle to check for children playing.
- Turn off your radio to better hear your surroundings.
- Keep your foot on the brake until you completely shift into reverse.
- Back out slowly.
- Teach children to never play in, on, around, or under vehicles.
- Know your vehicle’s blind spots and look again before backing.
- Learn more
New Driver Safety Tips
- Always carry your driver license, proof of vehicle registration and insurance with you in the vehicle you are driving.
- Driving is a huge responsibility. In order to drive safely, you must be fully engaged with your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on driving.
- Before you start your engine to operate your motor vehicle, put on your safety belt and make sure all passengers do the same.
- Read your Vehicle Owner’s Manual! It is an excellent resource for information specific to your vehicle.
- It is important that motorists get regular vision, hearing and general physical check-ups.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs and be aware of prescription and over-the-counter medications that affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
- Emotions can have an effect on driving safely. Avoid driving in emotional state. Take time to calm down and get focused before
- Any driver under the age of 18 who accumulates six or more driving record points within a 12 month period is automatically restricted for one year to driving for “Business Purposes ONLY.”
- Learn more
- Press Release
- Child Passenger Safety Week Press Release
- Child Safety Awareness logo
- FHP Car Seat Installation and Safety Checks
- Child Safety Awareness Social Media
- Child Safety Awareness handout
- Crashes Involving Children By County
- Child Restraint Citations
- Citations for Leaving a Child in a Motor Vehicle
- Citations for Passing a School Bus
- Learner’s License Violations
What are the child restraint requirements in Florida?
Every operator of a motor vehicle driven on Florida roads must provide for the protection of any child, 5 years of age or younger, by using a crash-tested, federally approved car seat. For children up to 3 years old, the restraint must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used. For passengers age 6 through 17 years, a seat belt must be used while riding in a motor vehicle. You may find more information regarding child restraint requirements by visiting The Florida Senate website.
Which car seat is right for your child?
It is critically important to keep our children safe in vehicles as they travel our state’s roadways. That means putting them in the proper restraint for their age, size and weight. “Securing your child in a correctly installed child safety seat is one of the most important things you can do to protect your child’s life every day,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since parents are often confused about the difference between child restraint laws (which differ in many states) and the recommendations of national experts regarding child safety seats, safety advocates want to ensure that parents and caregivers are aware of the Car Seats for Children Guidelines. The Car Seat Finder is an easy-to-use tool that lets you find the right car seat to fit your child. Follow your car seat manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual on how to install and properly use the car seat.
“Seat Belts” (file size 11M – Windows media, Must use Internet Explorer) “Riding in My Booster Seat” (file size 4M – Windows media, Must use Internet Explorer) Additional Resources: Please note, these links will open another window and you will leave the DHSMV website.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety | American Academy of Pediatrics: Car Seat Checkup | CarSeatSite.Com | Car Seats: Information for Families | Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Child Passenger Safety | Car Seat Safety for Kids | Child Passenger Safety | IIHS: Child SafetyKids and Cars | KidsHealth: Auto Safety | LATCH (Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children) | National Child Passenger Safety Board | SeatCheck.Org | Prevent Child Heatstroke in Cars