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Proper Safety Belts for Child Passengers Focus of February Campaign
Carla Levinksi
ODOT - Occupant Protection Program Manager
(503) 986-4199
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438

Oregonians will also be reminded about buckling up in pickups
If you’re not quite sure what safety restraints your child should be using in the car, now’s a great time to learn. From Feb. 8 - 21, law enforcement officers around the state will be making sure child passengers are using the right safety restraints for their size, age and weight. In 2008, one in three children (32 percent) under age eight killed or injured in crashes was using adult belts systems (223 children) or was totally unrestrained (22 children) rather than riding in the appropriate child seat.
“Getting children to ride in booster seats can sometimes be a challenge, but doing it saves lives,” said Carla Levinski, Occupant Protection program manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Some youngsters think they should be done with boosters, but if they are not the right size for adult restraint systems, they aren’t protected - and they depend on us to protect them.”
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.
The February safety campaign also includes a new TV public service announcement aimed at encouraging pickup truck drivers and passengers to buckle up every time. Studies show that safety belt use is lower among pickup truck occupants and even lower if those pickups are traveling in rural areas.
Though most Oregonians wear their safety belts routinely - more than 96 percent -those that don’t buckle up represent almost half of all crash fatalities. That’s part of the reason 29 Sheriff Offices, 67 Police departments and OSP Patrol Division are participating in federal overtime grants this year, administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“Someone who is unbelted or improperly belted is five times more likely to be ejected in a crash,” Levinski said. “The odds of surviving after you are thrown from a vehicle are about one in four.”
While Oregon law doesn’t require it, safety advocates recommend that children aged twelve and under ride in rear seating positions. Research indicates that such rear seating reduces the risk of injury by 37 percent for that age group.
Oregonians can learn the proper way to buckle up children at free clinics going on around the state throughout the year.  For an event calendar, call ACTS Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center at 1-800-772-1315 or visit www.childsafetyseat.org.  To view a video on proper child safety seat installation, visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/carseatvideo.shtml.