What Are Oklahoma’s Laws Regarding Child Seat Belts?

What Are Oklahoma’s Laws Regarding Child Seat Belts?Child safety in vehicles is so important—and the state of Oklahoma takes this responsibility seriously. As parents, it’s really important to make sure our children are safe when we’re driving. This is a huge responsibility that we can’t ignore or be lenient about.

Oklahoma’s child seat belt laws have been established to safeguard children during every journey, from a short trip to the local park to a longer drive across the state. Understanding and adhering to these regulations not only comply with legal requirements but also contribute to preventing potential accidents and injuries. Whether you’re a resident of Oklahoma City or any other part of the state, understanding and following these laws is crucial for every parent, guardian, or anyone responsible for transporting children.

Oklahoma’s child seat belt laws

When it comes to keeping our little ones safe on the roads, Oklahoma has set clear guidelines through child seat belt laws. Child restraint systems, such as car seats or boosters, are specifically designed to keep children secure and cushion them in case of an accident.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety, the laws are as follows:

  • 0-2 years old – Rear-facing car seat
  • 2-4 years old – Car seat until age 4
  • 4-8 years old – Car seat or booster until age 8, or until taller than 4’9”
  • 8 years old or taller than 4’9” – Seat belt

The back seat is always the safest option

When it comes to protecting our children during car rides, choosing the right seating arrangement can make a world of difference. The back seat of a vehicle is often said to be the safest spot for children, and for good reason. Placing car seats or boosters in the back seat helps shield them from one of the most common types of car accident impacts: frontal collisions. Being situated away from the front of the vehicle provides an added layer of protection to young passengers.

Also, airbags are designed to protect adults in the event of a crash but can be extremely dangerous for children, especially those in rear-facing car seats. If a child restraint system is placed in the front seat, an active airbag can potentially cause serious injuries to an infant or toddler during deployment.

Children are not always buckled up, despite the risks

While these laws may seem obvious, many still don’t follow them to a tee—and that can be a grave mistake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 607 children ages 12 and under were killed and more than 63,000 were injured in car accidents in 2020. Unfortunately, 38% of those children killed were not buckled up at the time of the crash. These statistics highlight the real dangers of not adhering to these laws and the crucial role proper child restraint plays in preventing such tragic outcomes.

Using the right safety system, and using it properly, is incredibly important. Recently, a family right here in Oklahoma City had to endure the tragic loss of their 2-year-old child. This heartbreaking incident occurred when the little girl, who was not in a booster seat, was ejected from the back seat during a car crash. Our primary goal is to ensure that no family ever has to bear the burden of such a profound loss ever again.

Penalties and fines for breaking child seat belt laws

A first-time offense fine can be $50 plus court costs. If you get charged with a subsequent offense, the fine can be much higher.

Injuries children can sustain in a car accident without seat belts

Accidents can be really dangerous, especially for kids who aren’t wearing seat belts. Here are some injuries they might face if they’re not properly buckled up:

  • Broken bones – During a collision, the force can be so strong that it might fracture a child’s bones. This can be really painful and take a long time to heal.
  • Cuts and bruises – The force of an accident can cause kids to hit things inside the car. This can result in bruises, cuts, and scrapes.
  • Whiplash – When a car suddenly stops, the head can jerk forward and then snap back. This can strain the neck and cause whiplash, which is painful and can lead to long-lasting discomfort.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – Not wearing a seat belt can make a child’s head hit the dashboard, window, or even the back of the front seat. This can lead to serious head injuries, including concussions.
  • Internal injuries – Even though you might not see it, the insides of our bodies can get hurt too. Without a seat belt, a child’s organs can get injured when they crash into something inside the car.
  • Ejection from the vehicle – If a child isn’t buckled up, they can be thrown out of the car during a crash. This is extremely dangerous and can result in severe injuries or even death.
  • Emotional trauma – Getting into a car accident can be really scary and traumatic for kids. The experience itself can lead to emotional distress and anxiety.
  • Death – In the worst cases, not wearing a seat belt can lead to fatal outcomes, where children tragically lose their lives due to the impact of the accident.

The safety of our children on the road is a responsibility we cannot afford to overlook. Seat belts and proper child restraint systems are not mere accessories but vital tools in protecting these innocent lives every day. Remember, it’s not just about following the law—it’s about valuing the lives of those who trust you to protect them. If you have any questions or concerns about child safety during car accidents, don’t hesitate to call the car accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears for guidance and support. Your commitment to child safety can truly make a difference. Complete our contact form today.