According to the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board, 69 children died in traffic-related deaths last year. Nearly half were not properly restrained with seat belts or car seats. Of the 6,000 children that were involved in collisions, 607 of them were seriously injured due to improper buckling.
Amendments to Oklahoma Child Restraint LawsThe new child restraint law will require all children under two years old to be buckled properly in a rear-facing car seat. Additionally, children under 8 years old or under 4’9” will be required to ride in a car seat or booster seat.
How is the new Oklahoma car seat law different from the old law?Old child restraint laws only required some sort of booster or car seat for children 5 and under, without any specifics about rear-facing seats or types of restraints. The American Association of Pediatrics updated their restraint recommendations in 2011 and Oklahoma is finally catching up.
Consequences of Breaking the New Child Restraint LawViolating the new Oklahoma child car seat law will earn you a fine of $50, which in reality will add up to around $208 with court costs. Though the fine doesn’t seem too painful, the physical consequences of not buckling your child properly could be fatal. According to Safe Kids, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children ages 1-19.
Pediatrician Dr. Fred Wheeler says ““If you’re facing forward and you floor the accelerator, you will go ahead and lean back just a little bit, but if you hit the break even at 5 miles an hour your head jerks way forward. So if you have a little baby that can’t walk yet and doesn’t have any muscle mass for their neck. They’re really, really likely to get terribly injured.”
The main resistance to the law comes from families who haven’t been implementing the booster seat rule for older children. Many are worried about their children’s reactions to the new requirements. However, in this situation, following the new laws could mean life or death.
What is the proper way to buckle a child?Though the new Oklahoma law makes significant improvements to the old law, the American Association of Pediatrics takes it one step further and makes recommendations for types of harnesses, seat types, and positioning. (View the full Car Seat Safety Recommendations)
1. Children should not wear bulky clothing while in a car seat. Heavy coats can prevent seatbelts from being tightened properly, and will compress during a crash, which can cause injury. Keep a blanket in the car or put the coat on backwards after being buckled to keep your child war. Read more about “Why bulky winter coats and car seats don’t mix” on Today.com
2. Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until age two.
3. Buckles should be placed directly over the sternum, at armpit level (not too high or too low). Buckles that are too high can choke your child, and buckles that are too low can cause damage to internal organs during a collision.
4. Seatbelt shouldn’t give way to pinching.
5. Children should ride in a 5-point harnessed child safety seat until at least age 4 depending on height and weight limit of the seat.
6. Children 4 and older should use a 5-point harness car sear or a belt positioning booster seat until age 8 or until the belt fits correctly without the booster. The shoulder belt should lie across middle of the chest, not near the neck. The lap belt needs to fit low and snug across hips and upper thighs, and not on the stomach.
7. Children under 14 years old should always ride in rear passenger seats.
Visit HealthyChildren.org for more Installation Tips for Car Seats.
Oklahoma continues to modify their traffic safety laws, which should hopefully decrease the amount of traffic collision deaths. Another Oklahoma traffic law goes into effect November 1st as well: New new-oklahoma-house-bill-1965-brings-changes-to-texting-and-driving-laws.htmlOklahoma House Bill 1965 Brings Changes to Texting and Driving Laws.