Bill encourages safety for child passengers

Even though Oklahoma requires adults to use child passenger restraints when their children are riding in vehicles, too many Oklahoma kids are not properly restrained, resulting in far too many injuries and deaths in our state.

That’s according to Sen. Randy Bass, Senate author of House Bill 1847, which was approved by the full Senate.  The measure clarifies state law, with the aim of helping parents better understand the safest way to restrain their children when they’re riding in a car or truck.

“In 2013, 22 children in our state were killed and 607 were seriously injured when the car or truck they were riding in was involved in an accident,” said Bass, D-Lawton.  “The number of fatalities and serious injuries could have been cut in half with the proper use of child restraints.”

Bass noted that last year, 69 children died as a result of traffic accidents.  In half of those fatalities where a car seat or seat belt was required, the child was not properly restrained.

“There are child carriers that are supposed to face the back of the car, there are booster seats, and there are seat belts.  Using the appropriate restraint based on the age, height and weight of a child can save that child’s life,” Bass said. HB 1847 clarifies exiting law to state that:

  • Children under the age of two are required to be in rear-facing seats.
  • Children between two to four are to be in forward-facing car seats.
  • Children between age four and eight and under four foot nine inches tall must be in a booster seat.

“Many people don’t understand that if a child is too small, a seat belt without a booster seat can actually decapitate them.  It is our hope that by updating and clarifying the law and enlisting the help of child safety advocates, we can dramatically reduce the number of child injuries and deaths in our state,” Bass said.

HB 1847 has the support of Safe Kids OK, the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics and AAA Oklahoma.