August is Child Safety Awareness Month

~ Children are precious cargo – motorists must take responsibility to ensure children arrive alive ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is reminding motorists to focus on child safety in vehicles as well as on and around Florida roads. DHSMV is partnering with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Education, Florida Department of Health, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to recognize August 2016 as Child Safety Awareness Month.

Throughout the month of August, the department will be educating the public regarding all aspects of child safety on Florida roads, including: occupant protection and proper seat restraints, not leaving children in hot cars and safety in and around school zones and school buses. Preliminarily in 2015, there were 66,091 crashes in Florida involving children under the age of 18, resulting in 25,992 injuries and 149 fatalities, a 25 percent increase in fatalities from 2013.

DHSMV offers additional safety tips for parents and all motorists to keep kids safe in and around vehicles:

  • Children under age four must be in a car seat and as of January 1, 2015, children age four and five must be in a car seat or booster seat. Drivers will be charged if any passenger under 18 is not properly buckled in.
  • 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 install your seat.
  • In passenger vehicles, children under the age of 13 should be secured in the rear seat; airbags can injure or kill young children in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.
  • Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots. Always watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
  • Never sit on the roadway or the curb while waiting for the school bus; wait in a safe place away from the road.
  • Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas.
  • Be alert while backing up and designate safe play areas away from vehicles.

Visit the DHSMV’s website for more information and use the hashtag #ChildSafetyFL throughout the month to add and share important child safety information.