Since we do it every day, it's easy to forget about all the dangers of riding in a car. Some grow complacent and even engage in illegal texting while driving. It's important that we consider safety, however, and for parents, it is our job to protect our most precious blessings. In addition to eliminating distracted driving, that means utilizing proper car seats and obeying applicable laws. Below are some frequently asked questions about child car seat laws in Oklahoma.
At what ages are children required to ride in a car seat in Oklahoma?
All children under 8 years of age must be in a properly-used child passenger restraint system, either a car seat or a booster appropriate for the child's height and weight. If the child is taller than four feet, nine inches, however, he or she can simply use a seat belt regardless of age. Also, just because your child is older than 8 doesn't mean you have to remove the booster. If he or she is small, for example, the seat belt may not offer the best protection against injury without a booster.
Has that always been the law?
No, prior to February 2006, only children 4 years of age and under were required to sit in a child seat while riding in a car in the state of Oklahoma. So things are different today than you might remember as a kid. That age was then raised to 6, and as of November 2015, it is now 8.
Are there any exceptions to this rule?
Yes, but they don't apply to most Oklahomans.
Obviously, the rules don't extend to school buses, and there is an exception that only applies to children seated behind the driver in church vans and licensed child care facility vans. You can read the exact language of the law on the state of Oklahoma's website.
Which way must the car seat face?
For the little ones, it should face the rear, but you can turn it around when they get a bit older.
Oklahoma law states that all children under the age of 2 be in a rear-facing car seat. From ages 2-4, kids can face the front in their car seats.
Can I use a booster instead of a full car seat?
Only if the child is older than 4 years of age.
Can my child ride in the front seat?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat. The fact is that front air bag systems can seriously injure kids, so it's best for them to sit in the back.
Can I get help installing my child's car seat?
Absolutely. There are safety seat check sites all across the state where someone can assist with installing or even just double check to make sure everything is correct.
Important: These guidelines are for general reference only. For questions regarding child safety seat regulations, contact the Oklahoma Department of Transportation at (405) 523-1570.