The state of Oklahoma reports that 80% of children are not as secure in their car seats as they need to be. A big part of the problem is because the car seats, booster seats, and combination seats aren’t being used correctly or according to state laws. According to Oklahoma’s research, “Properly installed car seats and booster seats reduce the chance of death in a motor vehicle crash by 71% for infants under 1 year and 54% for toddlers ages 1 – 4.”
Child passenger safety requirements in Oklahoma
Parents need to understand the following safety laws for their kids:
- Newborns to 2-years of age. These children must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Infants should stay in these seats until they reach two or until they grow beyond the height and weight limits for the rear-facing car seat.
- Two to four years of age. Children in this age group should be properly secured in forward-facing car seats. Oklahoma recommends a five-point harness. The next stage of child safety seats shouldn’t be used until the child reaches four or he/she outgrows the car seat limits for proper height and weight.
- Four to eight years of age. Children in this age range should “ride in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, unless they are taller than 4’9.””
- Eight years and older. Children in this age classification and children taller than 4’9’’ should use a seat belt. Parents should consider that front seat airbags can hurt young children. It’s generally best for young children to ride in the back seat until they reach age 13.
Safe restraints help prevent the child from being ejected from the car. They properly spread the forces and help the body “ride down” the crash. Proper restraints can help protect the spinal cord and head if a car accident occurs. The restraints should contact the strongest body parts.
The risks of wearing bulky winter coats in car seats
Oklahoma winters can get quite rugged. Even adults need layers of warm clothing. One popular item of clothing for children these days are bulky “puffy” coats. SafeRide4Kids warns that car seat makers generally recommend that children wear nothing thicker than a sweatshirt under the harness straps – otherwise the straps will be too loose. Loose straps can enable the child to slip free of the restraints increasing the risk of serious injury or death.
But we also know that in our cold winters, not having a coat can be just as dangerous. There are a few ways that you can help keep your child safe AND warm:
- Purchase a car seat cover, which wraps around the outside of the car seat.
- Dress your children in thermal clothing or fleece, and drape a blanket or coat over them while they are in the car.
- Consider using an insulated poncho, a wearable blanket (like a “Snuggie”), or even a robe in lieu of a coat.
Children rely on parents to protect them. This duty of protection extends to riding in cars. Parents need to understand Oklahoma’s child safety laws and read the instructions on the car seat and booster seats they buy. At Cunningham & Mears, we have the experience and resources to help you child get a just recovery in the event of an injury. Please call our Oklahoma City lawyers at 405.212.9234 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.
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Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More