August is Child Safety Awareness Month, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles along with several other state agencies are partnering with law enforcement groups to recognize the importance of the month.
Florida Highway Patrol Captain Jeffrey Bissainthe says one goal of the Child Safety Awareness Month is to stress how crucial it is for a child to either wear a safety belt or be in a car seat.
“Like last year, we had 1,165 children were injured, due to not wearing a safety restraint in the vehicle,” said Bissainthe. “And, Florida requires that all drivers and all passengers under the age of 18 wear a safety belt. We just want to make people aware that children under the age of four, they must be in a car seat. That was as of January 1st, 2015.”
Starting Friday, the FHP is also offering free car seat checks for parents and caregivers as part of Child Safety Awareness Month. More than 21,000 citations were issued as well for people not properly securing their kids. So, he says these car checks will go a long way.
“It’s not free car seats,” Bissainthe added. “We just want to clarify that. What it is, is that we’re going to be inspecting the child seats to make sure that the child seat is installed correctly. We will have certified installers that will ensure that that child seat is installed properly.”
The free car seat checks will then continue the first Friday of every month, but Bissainthe says those interested must first make an appointment at their local FHP Troop Station. For more information, visit flhsmv.gov.
In addition to car seat safety, the month also stresses tips for parents and kids, like watching out for children in school areas as well as being alert while backing your car up in neighborhoods.
“It’s just for the best interest of the children to keep them safe,” he continued. “We’ve had far too many fatalities and injuries.”
Last year, more than 66,000 Florida crashes involved children, according to preliminary data. About 26,000 resulted in injuries and 149 resulted in death—a 25 percent increase in fatalities since 2013.
For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.