A measure intended to update and clarify Oklahoma’s existing car seat law, making it easier for parents and caregivers to understand the best and safest way to restrain their child in their vehicle, was signed into law on Friday by Governor Mary Fallin.
“We know that in Oklahoma alone, the number of children who died or were seriously injured in car accidents could have been cut in half with the proper use of child restraint systems,” said Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton. Bass is the Senate author of the measure.
The new law will require children to be in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old or reach the maximum height or weight for their rear-facing car seat. Children less than four years old will be required to be in a car seat, either rear or forward facing. Children older than four but younger than eight years old and less than 4’ 9” tall would be required to be in a full car seat or booster seat.
“I am proud to have worked with House author, Rep. Scott Inman, to bring this bill to the table and get it across the finish line,” said Bass. “Some called it ‘nanny state overreach’. I call it a chance to save even just one child’s life. Some called it ‘too prescriptive’. I call it the opportunity to educate parents and caregivers.”
In 2013, 6,676 children were involved in traffic crashes in Oklahoma. Of those, 22 children were killed and 607 were seriously injured. In 2014, traffic accidents led to the death of 69 children. In half of the instances where a car seat or seat belt was required, the child was not properly restrained.
“I believe that the ultimate measure of a good public servant is how strongly they stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and how tenaciously they protect the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Bass. “With this bill, we stood up for Oklahoma’s children and I thank Rep. Inman for his role in shepherding this legislation through the House and supporting it all the way to the Governor’s desk.”
HB 1847 had the support of Safe Kids OK, the Oklahoma Chapter of the America Association of Pediatrics and AAA Oklahoma. The new law will go into effect later this year on Nov. 1.