Oklahoma Child Car Seat Laws

Correctly using the proper car seat is the best way to keep your child safe in the event of a car accident. Correct car seat use reduces the risk of injury by 71 to 82%, while booster seats reduce the risk by at least 45%.

Understanding Oklahoma child car seat laws also helps you avoid costly fines. However, child restraint laws can be confusing; they don’t always match industry safety recommendations. 

Here’s what you need to know about car seat laws in Oklahoma and why it’s vital to verify that you have the right seat installed correctly. 

Contact our attorneys at Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers if you or your child were injured in a crash in Oklahoma City, OK. We offer a free consultation to discuss your rights with an experienced Oklahoma City car accident lawyer, just call us at (405) 497-0480.

Oklahoma Requires Child Restraint Systems For Children Under 8

Oklahoma Requires Child Restraint Systems For Children Under 8

Oklahoma’s child passenger safety law requires children under eight and less than 4’9” in height to be properly secured in a child restraint system. The state’s child car seat law closely follows widely accepted safety guidelines. 

The following are safety seat requirements by age. 

  • Up to two years old – Children must be in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the weight and/or height limits. 
  • Two to four years old – Children must be in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness until they exceed the height and/or weight limits. 
  • Four to eight years old – Children must be in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt until they are at least 4’9” tall. 

It’s always safest to wait until children exceed the weight or height limits before moving to the next type of restraint system. When children are at least eight years old or reach a height of 4’9”, they should be restrained with a seat belt. Transitioning your child out of a booster seat too soon can be dangerous.

Oklahoma’s Right Ride pamphlet has important information about the correct installation and use of each type of child restraint system. 

Can Kids Sit in the Front Seat in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma law does not specify an age at which children can or cannot ride in the front seat. However, the back seat is the safest place for children until they are at least 13 years old and at least 4’9” tall. 

Airbags are the greatest threat to children in the front seat. Airbags are designed for adults and can cause serious injury or death to young children. A more mature skeletal system, greater weight, and larger frame are necessary for the airbag to be effective. 

If a young child must ride in the front seat: 

  • Position the seat as far away from the airbag as possible
  • Make sure the child is secured correctly in their seat
  • Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag

You should be able to disable the passenger airbag if necessary. 

Car Seats Are Often Installed or Used Incorrectly

A child restraint system is only effective when it’s installed and used properly. Child car seats and booster seats are designed to spread the force in a crash to the strongest parts of a child’s body and prevent ejection. 

A rear-facing seat spreads force across the back and reduces the risk of spinal cord injuries and brain injuries. Booster seats spread the force across the hips and chest. 

Sadly, one out of two safety seats are used incorrectly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, 73% of inspected forward-facing seats are not installed properly, according to the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF) database. 

Caregivers are less likely to have car seats inspected as their kids get older, yet children are often transitioned to the next safety system before it’s safe. 

The most common installation and use errors include: 

  • Loose installation
  • Loose harness
  • Improper recline angle (rear-facing seats)
  • Harness placed incorrectly on the child’s arms, legs, or back (forward-facing seats)
  • Improper lap or shoulder belt position (booster seats)

There are many safety myths about car seats that can be deadly, including that the top tether anchor is optional and loose straps are okay. 

You can make sure your car seat or booster seat is installed properly at your local county health department. Oklahoma’s Injury Prevention Service partners with several state programs to provide free car seat inspections. These inspections are performed by certified child passenger safety technicians. 

Does a Car Seat Need To Be Replaced After an Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident, you may need to replace your child’s car seat or booster seat. The NHTSA recommends replacing car seats after moderate or severe accidents. 

Your child’s safety seat does not need to be replaced after a minor accident if the airbags didn’t deploy, the vehicle can still be driven safely, no one was injured, and the door closest to the car seat was undamaged. 

Contact Our Experienced Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyers For a Free Consultation

Car seats and booster seats are the best way to reduce the risk of serious injury in a crash, but even the best car seat can’t eliminate risk. If your child has been seriously hurt in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, seeking compensation is important to ensure they receive the medical treatment they need. 

Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers has over 95 years of combined experience representing injured children and their families. Contact our law office for a free consultation with an Oklahoma City car accident attorney to discuss how we can help your family.

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