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Click It or Ticket: May 19 - June 1
05/16/2008
Ms. Carla Levinski
Occupant Protection Program Manager - ODOT
Office: (503) 986-4199
 
Ms. Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Office: (503) 986-3438
 
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Despite having one of the highest safety belt usage rates in the nation, Oregon still experiences tragedy every year due to lack of belt use. In fact, in 2007, not wearing a safety belt was a major factor in half of Oregon’s 500* traffic deaths. More than a third of children under age eight who were injured in crashes were unrestrained, held on laps, or using adult belt systems rather than child seats. From May 19 to June 1, law enforcement personnel will be working extra shifts during the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign to help ensure motorists and their passengers are properly buckled up.
                                                 
“Continual roadside reminders and extra enforcement have the potential to save many more lives,” said Carla Levinski, Occupant Protection Program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Ongoing education is especially important so people can understand the changes to Oregon laws, specifically the age and weight requirements for child safety and booster seats.”
 
Oregon law requires that children weighing less than 40 pounds 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. ODOT is allocating $200,000 in 2008 for qualified low-income families to purchase child seats and boosters. Seats are being distributed by volunteers at local car seat fitting stations within each county.
 
Oregon currently stands at number three in the nation for safety belt usage, at 95 percent. The 5 percent who remain unbuckled, and many others, will be the focus for Oregon’s 27 sheriff’s offices, 63 police departments and the Oregon State Police during the nationwide “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
 
“The state’s goal continues to be getting everyone to buckle up on every trip, no matter how short,” Levinski said. “It only takes one unbuckled passenger to strike other occupants hard enough to injure or kill them in a crash.”
 
Click It or Ticket is a national traffic enforcement mobilization funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through ODOT’s Safety Division.
*Preliminary figure; will be finalized in June 2008.
 
Important Notes
  • Changes to child restraint laws that went intoeffect July 1, 2007:  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 help with child safety seats, refer to the seat manufacturer’s instructions, vehicle owner’s manual or call ACTS Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center at 1-800-772-1315.  The Center also maintains a website listing locations where the public can get free help installing their car seats from trained technicians. Go to www.childsafetyseat.org
 
  • Child passengers should ride in back: While it is not the law in Oregon, it is strongly recommended 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.
 
  • Removal of commercial vehicle exemption that went into effect January 1, 2008: Oregon's safety belt law no longer exempts commercial vehicles which are “designed or used to transport property.” This broad definition includes all types of trucks, vans, and passenger cars including those that are used for bulk transport, specialized delivery services, or movement of materials in conjunction with various projects or activities. 
 
  • “Proper use” is required by Oregon law and means using the entire belt system – lap belt if only a lap belt is provided, and both lap and shoulder belts where both are provided. The lap belt should be worn low across the hips and the shoulder belt should be placed over the collarbone and crossing center of chest. Belts should be free of slack and lying flat with no twists or knots. If the shoulder belt portion of your safety belt rides up onto your neck or feels uncomfortable, you may increase your comfort by sliding the built-in adjuster up or down or by moving your seat position. Do NOT place your shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back – this can cause serious internal injuries or ejection in a crash. For help with repair, installation or retrofitting of safety belts, call your vehicle dealer or vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department.  
 
  • Most safety advocates agree the greatest danger to unbelted or improperly belted occupants is the significant likelihood and consequences of ejection. Such occupants are five times more likely to be ejected in a crash than one who is belted. Odds of surviving ejection are estimated at one in four.
 
  • Consistent safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect vehicle occupants from injury and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the US Department of Transportation
 
Safety belt stats
  • Oregon ranks third among states for highest safety belt use at 95% for front seat occupants.  Hawaii ranks first at 97% and Washington State second at 96%. The average belt use reported by states nationwide is only 82%.
 
  • Since passage of Oregon’s adult belt law in 1990, motor vehicle crash fatality and injury rates have both decreased by 43% as belt use has nearly doubled from 50% to 95% (all seating positions.)
 
For more information about traffic safety, visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/safetybelts.shtml.