Blog of Charles Bryan Alred
Child Seat Belt Law Passes Oklahoma State House
Posted on March 19, 2020
Oklahoma is currently the only US state that does not have a law requiring older children to buckle up in the backseat, but that could change if a measure by lawmakers continues to progress through the legislative process. Oklahoma’s Fox News Channel 25 reported in a March 10, 2020 article that the bill easily passed the state House with a 78-18 vote. It now moves to the Senate and, if passed, the law will go to the governor’s office for signature.
Specifically, House Bill 2791 would make it mandatory for any occupant under 18 years old to wear a safety restraint when riding in the backseat.
Under existing law, seatbelts are only required when children eight years old and younger are in the rear position. For several years, the vehicle driver and front seat passengers have also been required to buckle up in Oklahoma. The American Auto Association states that more than half of fatalities and injuries to vehicle occupants are preventable through use of seat belts.
Charles Bryan Alred, founding partner at Charles Bryan Alred, PC in Tulsa, OK, remarked that the measure was long overdue.
“As a car accident attorney, I can say that there’s nothing more devastating than conducting an initial consultation with a parent whose child died because they weren’t buckled up. Plus, I meet with many families that will never be the same because the child suffers serious, catastrophic injuries. These kids may never walk again or could require 24-hour for the rest of their lives – all because they were not wearing a seatbelt.”
Mr. Alred also noted that infants and toddlers should be properly restrained through a car seat or booster seat. “Younger children, especially newborns, are particularly vulnerable in a vehicle crash. Their skeletal systems aren’t developed enough to protect the body against impact, so a seat belt alone isn’t enough.”
Parents should do their research when shopping for car seats and booster seats, looking beyond brand name and the child’s age.
It is also important to consider such factors as weight and height of the child. The straps should fit snugly over the shoulders to keep the child firmly in place in the event of a crash. In addition, parents should review the design and durability of the headrest, which should prevent the head from being tossed. Many designs are adaptable to a car seat to booster seat, with the ability to carry a child from infancy through toddlerhood and beyond.