Child Safety Seat Enforcement

Child passengers need to use the right restraints.

Law enforcement agencies across Oregon are partnering with ODOT and safety advocates to tackle a trend that needs to end: an increase in injuries among 7 – 11 year old child passengers in crashes. For 2015, preliminary numbers show child passengers killed and injured under age 12 jumped more than 9 percent, from 1,564 to 1,712. Between Aug. 22 and Sept. 24, officers will be on the lookout for travelers who are not using their restraint systems correctly and belted child passengers who should still be using booster seats.

“The increase in injuries in the 7 – 11 age group is due in large part to child passengers moving to adult belts too soon,” said Oregon’s Occupant Protection Program Manager Carla Levinski. “When it is too soon, the child’s legs aren’t long enough to bend at the leading edge of their seat or the shoulder belt rides on the neck. To compensate, the child will either put the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back or slide down in the seat so the lap belt ends up on the stomach instead of the hips where it needs to be. Both of these situations greatly decrease the effectiveness of the belt and put the child at risk of serious injuries.”

Chart for child passengers killed/injured

The enhanced enforcement is funded through U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant administered by ODOT. National Child Passenger Safety Awareness week follows on the heels of this enforcement, Sept. 22 through 28. Free car seat clinics with trained, certified passenger safety technicians are available during this week and year-round in communities throughout the state.

Oregon law requires children less than forty pounds be restrained in a child seat. Children under one year 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. Child passengers need to use the right restraints

While Oregon law does not prohibit children other than rear-facing infants from riding in the front seat, ODOT strongly supports the national best practice of transporting children under age thirteen in rear seating positions whenever possible. Crash research indicates these children are at a 37 percent reduced risk of injury when seated in the rear.