Car crashes are the leading cause of childhood deaths in Oklahoma but still, the Sooner State has very loose laws on the use of child seat belts. AAA Oklahoma is putting pressure on legislators in the state, hoping to change the shocking statistics that are released on child fatalities every year.
Currently, children in Oklahoma must be in a rear-facing child seat until the age of two. After that time, they must sit in a booster seat until the age of eight. These are fairly standard laws seen throughout the country. However, it is after a child turns eight that Oklahoma’s laws deviate from those of the rest of the nation. In this state, once a child turns eight, they can sit in the back seat without wearing a seat belt until they are 15.
“This was a massive oversight the last time the law was changed,” says Attorney Clayton T. Hasbrook of Hasbrook & Hasbrook. “The thing that is even more shocking is that parents are actually taking advantage of it, not requiring their children to buckle up when in the car.”
Oklahoma is the only state in the country that does not have seat belt laws for children aged 8 to 14. That is because when the law was last changed, these laws were struck out of the legislation. AAA is trying to change that. The agency states that Oklahoma is not only the one state without these necessary laws, but that the current law also does not comply with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ standards.
Now, AAA is getting the help it needs. In March, legislators started drafting and proposing bills that would change the child seat belt laws in the state. While no movement has been made on these bills yet, the hope is that one will be in place soon.
The stats indicate that there is a clear need for it. Over the past five years, 1,136 children aged 8 to 17 have been killed or sustained serious injuries as a result of car accidents. Of those, 38 percent of children were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.