A renewed push to require booster seats for children ages four and older

Ahead of the the opening session of the Florida legislature in March, there is a renewed push for state lawmakers to pass legislation that would require the use of booster seats for children ages four and older.

Florida, which is one of two states in the United States that does not require booster seats for children, has the weakest child safety seat law in the nation, child safety advocates said.

House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 66 would require that children ages four and older use booster seats until they reached the age of seven or were 4 feet 9 inches in height or taller.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches in height or taller and are between eight and 12 years old.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages three to 11.

In Florida, child advocates said more than 3,500 children were seriously injured or killed in a crash in 2009.

"We need to catch up with the times. We need to join the rest of the nation. We need to protect our children," said Leslie Kroeger, a shareholder at Leopold Law.

Kelly Powell, a program director at Safe Kids Palm Beach County , which hosts annual booster seat drives, said booster seats can cut back injuries by as much as 60 percent.

"Everybody loves their child and if something as simple as a fifteen dollar booster seat can save your child's life -- and you don't suffer the pain and suffering of losing a child or have a child injured for the rest of their life -- it's worth every penny," Powell said.

State lawmakers have tried to change the law but some bills died in legislative committees.

In 2001, Governor Jeb Bush vetoed a bill passed by lawmakers because he considered it a "de facto tax" on parents.

Bush also said tourists wouldn't be familiar with the law's requirements.

"If something were to happen to your child just because you had them in the wrong car seat you would never forgive yourself," said Diana Martin, a Jupiter resident and mother of two children.

Reps. Lori Berman, Mark Pafford and Irv Slosberg told WPTV NewsChannel 5 they supported the legislation.

A spokesperson for Governor Rick Scott said he would review the legislation if it reached his desk during the legislative session and then make a decision.

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