Vehicle Child Safety Laws in Oklahoma

Posted on 12/8/22

in Car Accidents

Just like parents, Oklahoma takes child safety seriously. In an ongoing effort to protect children on the state’s roadways, Oklahoma puts child safety laws in place based on the latest data. This includes the most up-to-date requirements for car seats and seat belt safety for children from birth to age 8 and up.

In 2022 there were over 43,000 car accidents in the US that resulted in a fatality. CDC data from 2020 shows that over 600 children under age 12 were killed in car accidents in the United States. Of this number, 38% were not properly buckled into their seats.

Some common problems associated with child safety in car seats include moving children to forward-facing seats too soon, graduating children to the next stage of car seats before they’re physically and legally ready, and drivers who aren’t familiar with Oklahoma’s child safety laws.

The Back Seat Is Best for Children

While Oklahoma has no official laws on what age children may legally ride in the front passenger seat, most car manufacturers recommend children remain in the back seat until age 13. The back seat is always safest for children. Because front-end impacts are the most common causes of injuries in car accidents, having children in the back seat protects them from impact and ensures they are placed away from the windshield with cushioned seats between them and the glass. The back seat also keeps small children away from the potential harm of being hit with a deploying airbag, which releases at speeds up to 400mph. Further, infant car seats are designed for back seat use and may not function properly when placed in a front seat.

Child Car Seat Laws for Kids in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has car seat requirements in effect for children based on recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which urges that children remain in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. Oklahoma’s Child Safety Laws are as follows:

  • Children from birth to age 2 must be properly restrained in a rear-facing infant or convertible car seat at all times. They should remain in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they exceed the height and weight limits of their seat. Riding in a rear-facing position with the legs against the back seat is the safest travel position for children, protecting their heads, necks, and spinal cords.
  • All children under age 4 must be secured in a car seat with an internal, 5-point harness. Children over age 2 may move into this type of car seat and are legally allowed to face forward, though rear-facing is still recommended as the safest position. Children may remain in car seats with internal harnesses until they outgrow the height and weight limits or at least until age 4.
  • Children under age 8 but at least 4 years old must ride in a booster seat unless they are taller than 4’9”. A child booster seat lifts the child to the right height for the car’s lap and shoulder belts to fit correctly.
  • Children of 4’9” and up or age 8 and up must ride securely fastened into the car’s seatbelt, using both lap and shoulder belts.

When absolutely necessary, children may legally ride in a front seat since Oklahoma lacks a back seat-only law. However, child safety experts warn that the seat should be pushed as far back from the dash as possible. Rear-facing infant seats should never be used in a front seat with an airbag active.

Understanding Penalties for Breaking Child Safety Laws in Oklahoma

Adults who break Oklahoma’s car seat and child safety laws may be fined $50.00 for a first offense, but must also pay court costs. Fines escalate on further offenses.

While Oklahoma is a comparative negligence state and some arguments for the defense of a person at fault might implicate a driver who didn’t properly secure a child into a car seat or seatbelt, the state doesn’t allow compensation decisions to rest on whether or not a child was properly restrained since this could negatively impact their medical care and children do not make these decisions.

Oklahoma’s child safety laws are meant to keep children as safe as possible on the roadways, speak to our Oklahoma City accident lawyers to learn more.