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February Focus on Booster Seats and Safety Belts
Oregon Department of Transportation
Carla Levinski
Office: (503) 986-4199
Shelley Snow
Office: (503) 986-3438
Oregon State Police
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

One in three children under age eight killed or injured in crashes in 2007 in Oregon was using adult belt systems (231 children) or was totally unrestrained (16 children). That’s one reason safety advocates are promoting the use of proper safety seats for child passengers. The other? Even though Oregonians are buckling up in record numbers, lack of safety belt use was a major factor in half of all Oregon motor vehicle fatalities in 2007.
“Consistent safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes,” said Carla Levinski, Occupant Protection program manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation. “It’s important that we continue getting that message out.”
Law enforcement agencies around the state, including 30 Sheriff Offices, 76 Police Departments and the OSP Patrol Division, will be keeping a keen eye on safety belt, booster seat and child safety seat use from Feb. 9 – 22 in a campaign funded through ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division. A new public service announcement will also begin airing, reminding motorists that “Just one click can save your life. So buckle up.”
For child passengers, that means using the proper restraint system for their size. Oregon law requires the following:
  • A child weighing less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a child safety seat.
  • A child under one year of age or weighing less than twenty pounds must be restrained in a child seat, rear facing.
  • A child over forty pounds but under age eight or less than 4’ 9” tall must be restrained in a booster seat that elevates them so the lap/shoulder belts fit correctly.
For adults, Oregon law requires “proper use” of safety belts. That means using the entire belt system, with the lap belt low across your hips, and the shoulder belt over your collarbone and crossing the center of your chest. Belts should be free of slack and lying flat with no twists or knots. If the shoulder belt portion of an adult safety belt rides up onto your neck or feels uncomfortable, slide the built-in adjuster up or down or move your seat forward or backward.
“Your shoulder belt should not be under your arm or behind your back,” Levinski said. “Wearing a belt improperly can cause serious internal injuries or ejection in a crash.”
Levinski noted that someone who is unbelted or improperly belted is five times more likely to be ejected in a crash.
“The odds of surviving after you are thrown from a vehicle are about one in four,” she said. “We want Oregonians to remember just one click can save your life.”
For help with child safety seats, refer to the seat manufacturer’s instructions or vehicle owner’s manual, or call ACTS Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center at 1-800-772-1315.