It went into effect in late May, but you may not have heard yet: child passengers under age two must use a child seat with harness in a rear-facing position, unless the child turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017. Previously, the age requirement for rear-facing was up to age one, but safety advocates have known for years that rear-facing is a best practice. Now, in Oregon, it’s law.
Over the past few weeks, law enforcement agencies around the state have been looking for opportunities to educate motorists about this new law, along with Oregon’s other occupant safety law for child passengers, which says a child over age two (or who turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017) must ride in a car seat with harness or in a booster until they reach age eight or 4’ 9” in height and the adult belt fits them correctly. Statewide education efforts will continue during National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17 – 22, an event that recognizes the significant role proper child restraints play in saving lives.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading nationwide cause of death for children ages one through twelve years old,” said Occupant Protection Program Manager Carla Levinski. “Too often it’s because the child was riding in the wrong type or incorrectly installed child restraint.”
In 2015, 20 percent of the 981 children aged eight and under that were injured in Oregon traffic crashes were using adult belts instead of child restraints as required by law. Nineteen of the injured children were using no restraint at all.
“Parental modeling can significantly affect a child’s behavior with respect to nurturing consistent and proper restraint use habits,” Levinski said. “Even though 97 percent of Oregonians surveyed report ‘always’ using restraints, our crash data for 2015 shows lack of safety belt or child restraint use remains a factor in 35 percent – or 79 – of the total 289 motor vehicle occupant fatalities.”