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Child Passenger Safety in the Spotlight for National Click It or Ticket Campaign Runs Aug. 29 - Sept. 11
08/30/2011
Carla Levinski
ODOT Occupant Protection Program
(503) 986-4199
 
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438
 
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

SALEM - Child passengers in vehicles are at great risk, even though 97 percent of Oregonians wear seatbelts. Why? Because they are usually in the wrong type of safety restraint for their age and size.
 
"Unfortunately, among 4 - 8 year olds, observed booster seat use was only 60 percent in a survey we did this past June," said Carla Levinski, Occupant Protection Program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "And in 2010, half of the children in this age group who were killed or injured in crashes were not using booster seats."
 
That’s why law enforcement agencies around the state are focusing on child passengers during the "Click It or Ticket" campaign running Aug. 29 through Sept. 11. Thirty one Sheriff Offices, 67 Police Departments and the Oregon State Police will participate on federal overtime grants administered by ODOT. A week after the campaign concludes, it’s National Child Passenger Safety Week, from Sept. 18 - 24, so officers will be encouraging drivers, parents and caregivers to learn how to properly secure children in vehicles. A year-round schedule of free child safety seat clinics is available at www.childsafetyseat.org (in Portland, call 503-643-5620; statewide toll-free, call 877-793-2608).
 
Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that in motor vehicle crashes, child safety seats reduce the likelihood of infants under age 1 being killed in a crash by 71 percent and the fatal risk for toddlers aged 1 - 4 by 54 percent.
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.
 
"Securing children properly in age and size appropriate child safety seats - in the back seat of the vehicle - is the most effective thing parents and caregivers can do to protect them in the event of a crash," Levinski said.
 
In 2010, four children under age 8 died in crashes in Oregon. Three of them were not using any restraint at all. The greatest danger to unbelted children and adult occupants is ejection from the vehicle. Unbelted or improperly restrained occupants are five times more likely to be ejected than one who is belted. They can also slam into other passengers and injure them during a crash or sharp swerve. Odds of surviving ejection are estimated at one in four. Ejection is the principal reason that minors are prohibited from riding in an open bed of a pickup truck.
 
"Proper use" of restraints is required by Oregon law and means using the entire belt system or child restraint as intended by the manufacturer. For child restraints, this means using the type of child seat or booster required by law for the child’s size and age, and using that restraint according to the seat manufacturer and your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
 
Since the 1990 passage of Oregon’s adult belt law, observed belt use among the motoring public has doubled from 50 percent to 97 percent, while crash fatality and injury rates have both decreased by 49 percent and 44 percent respectively. Reminders are still important, however, as, 45 percent of crash fatalities in 2010 were unbelted.