September 15, 2017

New child passenger safety law

From Oregon Department of Transportation,

Buckle up correctly every time, every trip

SALEM – It went into effect in late May, but you may not have heard yet: child passengers under age two must use a child seat with harness in a rear-facing position, unless the child turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017. Previously, the age requirement for rear-facing was up to age one, but safety advocates have known for years that rear-facing is a best practice. Now, in Oregon, it’s law.

Over the past few weeks, law enforcement agencies around the state have been looking for opportunities to educate motorists about this new law, along with Oregon’s other occupant safety law for child passengers, which says a child over age two (or who turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017) must ride in a car seat with harness or in a booster until they reach age eight or 4’ 9” in height and the adult belt fits them correctly. Statewide education efforts will continue during National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17 – 22, an event that recognizes the significant role proper child restraints play in saving lives

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading nationwide cause of death for children ages one through twelve years old,” said Occupant Protection Program Manager Carla Levinski. “Too often it’s because the child was riding in the wrong type or incorrectly installed child restraint.”

In 2015, 20 percent of the 981 children aged eight and under that were injured in Oregon traffic crashes were using adult belts instead of child restraints as required by law. Nineteen of the injured children were using no restraint at all.

“Parental modeling can significantly affect a child’s behavior with respect to nurturing consistent and proper restraint use habits,” Levinski said. “Even though 97 percent of Oregonians surveyed report ‘always’ using restraints, our crash data for 2015 shows lack of safety belt or child restraint use remains a factor in 35 percent – or 79 – of the total 289 motor vehicle occupant fatalities.”

Many of these tragedies can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts – no matter what your age. “Proper” use is key, and Oregon has hundreds of certified child safety seat technicians that can offer help at one of Oregon’s child seat fitting stations.

“Our statistics help us estimate that we could have saved 40 individual lives in 2015 if everyone had used proper safety belts and child safety systems on every trip – short trips too,” Levinski said. “That should serve as powerful motivation to buckle up properly every single time you get in your vehicle.”

REMINDER: Oregon law requires children less than forty pounds be restrained in a child seat. Children under two years of age (or who turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017) or weighing less than twenty pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing child seat. A child over forty pounds must be restrained in either a child seat or a booster seat appropriate for their size until they reach age eight or 4’ 9” tall AND the adult belt system fits them correctly.

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