Medford Police Enlist In Oregon Initiative to Upgrade Child Passenger Safety
MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford Police are collaborating with law enforcement agencies across the state in the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Safety Belt Overtime Enforcement Program. Starting on Monday, January 29, and running through to Sunday, February 11, local police will be actively participating.
ODOT data from 2021 reveals that 32% (119 out of 377) of occupant fatalities in motor vehicle crashes were due to the lack of safety belts or child restraint use. Motor vehicle crashes are still the main cause of death of children between the ages of one and twelve across the U.S. Oregon’s data showed that 1,475 children under the age of twelve were injured in traffic crashes in 2021 in the state, and 16% of those children injured were not using a child restraint system.
The state initiative seeks to raise awareness about safety belt and child seat laws, and their focus is on the legislation enacted in 2017 that enhances safety for children under the age of two.
Child Safety And Seat Belts
Correct car seat usage significantly enhances child safety in the event of a crash according to studies. Properly used, car seats could increase crash survival by 71% for infants under a year old, and by as much as 59% for toddlers aged between one and four. Recommended for children aged four to eight, booster seats, could reduce the possibility of non-fatal injury by 45% when compared with using only safety belts.
Mandating that children ride in a rear-facing safety seat until they reach at least two years old, the 2017 Oregon law has strict child safety rules when it comes to vehicles. A child over two must continue using either a car seat with a harness or a booster seat until they are eight years old or reach 4′ 9″ in height. This ensures that the adult seat belt fits the child correctly. The legislation extends the rear-facing requirement from the age of one to two, aiming to protect children’s heads, spines, and necks better from potential crash injuries as the position distributes the crash forces evenly across the seat and the child’s body.
When selecting and installing child car seats, parents and caregivers should seek guidance from available resources such as the seat manufacturer’s instructions, or the vehicle owner’s manual to ensure correct installation. Local child seat fitting stations are geared towards this essential safety measure and a list of inspection stations is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.