Be Prepared for New Oklahoma Child Passenger Safety Law
Oklahoma will soon be one of the few states with a child passenger safety law that meets the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) advises that proper car seat and booster seat use reduces the chance of death in a motor vehicle crash by 71 percent for infants under 1 year old and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1-4. Additionally, Safe Kids Worldwide reports 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly.
The OSDH recommends that parents and caregivers ensure their child’s restraint system meets the following criteria to be in compliance with the new child passenger safety law before it goes into effect Nov. 1:
· All children under age 4 must be properly secured in a car seat with an internal harness.
o A 5-point harness is the safest restraint system and should be used as long as possible (until the child exceeds the harness’ weight limit).
· Children under age 2 must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat.
o Rear-facing is the safest way for small children to travel, and they should remain rear-facing until they reach 2 years of age or until they exceed the height or weight limit of the car seat.
o Riding rear-facing with legs bent or against the back of the seat is a safe and comfortable position for children. This position best protects their head, neck and spinal cord in the event of a crash.
· Children ages 4-7 must ride in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat unless they are taller than 4’9”.
Children taller than 4’9” or over age 7 should always be restrained in a seat belt. Riding in the back seat of the vehicle is the safest way for children to travel.
Parents and caregivers can contact one of the many child passenger safety (CPS) technicians available throughout the state to ensure that their children’s car and/or booster seats are installed properly and seat belts are fitted correctly. CPS technicians can also advise parents on how to comply with the new law and answer any questions they may have.