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Child Passenger Safety Facts

Issue: Oklahoma’s current child passenger safety law allows children 8 and older to ride without a seat belt in vehicles. Oklahoma is the ONLY state that does not require most children to wear a seat belt in the backseat.

Key Messages 

  • Car crashes are the number one cause of death and injury for children in Oklahoma. Injuries to Oklahoma children in car crashes are preventable. Car seats and seat belts work to prevent injuries and death.
  • Oklahoma ranks among the top-10 worst states for deaths of Children in vehicle crashes.
  • In 2017, more than 60% of children who died in crashes in Oklahoma were not wearing a seat belt or in a child seat.
  • In 2018, the number of children who died in crashes who were not wearing a seat belt or in a child seat DECREASED by almost half; however, we can further reduce these needless deaths by updating our child passenger safety laws.

Supporting Information

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of unintentional deaths for 5-19 years old in Oklahoma. (Oklahoma State Dept. of Health, 2016-17 data)
  • Seat belt use reduces serious injuries and fatalities by more than half (NHTSA). Requiring children to ride in seat belts is a proven way to save lives.
  • In the last five years, 1070 children between the ages of 8-17 have been killed or seriously injured in vehicle crashes in Oklahoma. (2014-2018)

Hard Numbers

  • Number of unrestrained children (age 0-17) killed in crashes in Oklahoma in 2017: 18 out of 29 (62.1%)*
  • Number of unrestrained children (age 0-17) killed in crashes in Oklahoma in 2018: 9 out of 26 (34.6%)*

*Oklahoma Highway Safety Office Crash Data