Oklahoma Car Seat Laws

August 4th, 2022 by

Car seat laws refer to regulations relating to the safety of the passengers in a motor vehicle, particularly very young children. Specific laws vary by state. If you’re an Oklahoma resident, it’s essential to understand the laws that apply to you and your loved ones, as well as their importance and associated penalties. In this article, we provide all the information you need to familiarize yourself with these rules of the road in the Sooner State.

 

What Are the Current Car Seat Laws in Oklahoma?

The current car seat laws in Oklahoma state that children under the age of 8 must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system that satisfies Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. This standard identifies multiple varieties of child passenger restraint systems. Those that relate specifically to Oklahoma’s car seat laws are:

  • Rear-Facing Car Seat: This type of car seat positions the child so that they face the back of the vehicle. This orientation provides greater support to the head, neck, and spine, which are particularly susceptible to injury in infants and toddlers.
  • Forward-Facing Harnessed Car Seat: Here, the car seat allows the child to face the front of the vehicle but features durable straps that secure them across the most rigid areas of the body — namely the shoulders and hips. In the event of a crash, the harnesses keep the child in place and more safely distribute the forces of the impact.
  • Booster Seat: This elevates the child passenger to a position that allows them to sit more properly in the vehicle’s installed seating. Rather than employing a harness system, booster seats permit the child to use the vehicle’s seat belts.

The car seats you must use in Oklahoma depend on the age and characteristics of the child passenger. Rear-facing car seats must be used for children aged 0 to 2, or until they outgrow their seat. From there until the age of 4, they must ride in a forward-facing harnessed seat. From 4 to 8 years old, children under 4’9″ may graduate to a booster seat. Once a child reaches the age of 8 or grows taller than 4’9″, they do not need to use a car seat but must wear a seat belt.

In addition to the above, Oklahoma recommends that children always ride in the back seat of the vehicle. There are no age restrictions concerning a child sitting in the front seat, though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children sit in the back seat until they are at least 13 years of age. Oklahoma also has a mandatory seat belt law dictating that every driver and front-row passenger “must wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system,” which helps to ensure the safety of the adult members in the cabin as well.

Keep in mind that child seat laws apply primarily to private passenger vehicles, as livery vehicles such as taxis and buses are exempt. There are some important exceptions for passenger vehicles as well. For example, if a child has a medical condition where they are unable to tolerate a car seat, they may ride free of a restraint system provided that the family can provide written documentation from a doctor.

What Are the Penalties for Breaking Oklahoma Car Seat Laws?

Failure to comply with Oklahoma car seat laws can result in a monetary penalty for the relevant parent or guardian. Should you be convicted of a violation, the court may issue a fine of $50 and payment of all court costs associated with your case. It may opt to suspend the fine and limit your court costs to $15 if it’s your first offense and you can prove that you’ve bought or acquired a child passenger restraint system.

A violation of the car seat laws does not add points to your driving record. Any fines that the court does collect goes toward the Department of Public Safety Restricted Revolving Fund, which the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office uses to educate the public about child passenger restraint systems.

An additional fine may apply if the driver or front-seat passenger is found to be noncompliant with Oklahoma’s mandatory seat belt use law. The fine and court costs for a violation are no greater than $20. Seat belt violations do not add points to your driving record either.

Why Are Car Seat Laws Important?

Car seat laws are important because they help to protect the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of society — children. Indeed, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death to children. Statistics from 2019 show 608 child fatalities in car crashes, with more than 230 of them involving children who weren’t properly secured. Of those fatalities, 68% were under the age of 8. These numbers suggest that a well-secured child passenger has a much higher chance of surviving a motor vehicle accident.

Studies also indicate that adhering to car seat laws decreases the risk of injury to children. Compared to seat belt use alone, placing a child passenger in a restraint system appropriate to their size and age reduces their risk of injury by 71% to 82%. Using a booster seat, meanwhile, reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% for children aged 4 to 8.

Furthermore, car seat laws have been proven to be effective. States that have adopted car seat laws have seen high rates of compliance, resulting in lower rates of fatality among child passengers compared to states without such laws in place. All of this indicates that car seat laws help to create safer conditions for children in motor vehicles.

At Eskridge Chevrolet in Guthrie, we understand the value of a safe, dependable vehicle. If you have any questions concerning our inventory, don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form with your name, contact information, and message and one of our associates will get in touch with you as soon as possible. If you’d prefer to speak with someone directly, give us a call at 405-389-3686. Alternatively, stop by our dealership at 5307 S. Division St. in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to get an in-person look at our new Chevrolets and pre-owned lot.

Posted in Road Safety