Advocates Push For Law Mandating Children Wear Seat Belts

Wednesday, January 8th 2020, 12:46 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that doesn't require children to buckle up when in the back seat of a car. Child advocates said this is the year to change that.

In 2015 the legislature passed a law mandating children under 8 be restrained in either a car seat or a booster seat.  But child advocates said in an oversight when the bill was written it left out older children. And for four years advocates have not been able to convince lawmakers to add the mandate back.

Danica Jordan was driving one year ago when someone, who she said was texting and driving, ran into the back of her when she was going down the highway.

“I just remember I didn’t want to look in the back seat, my sister was back there. I was terrified,” she recalled.

Her sister was properly restrained in a car seat and fine. But that experience prompted the high school junior to join a fight to make seat belts mandatory for children between 8 and 17.

“If we are going to be a top 10 state, we must have child covered by a seat belt law,” said Rep. Ross Ford (R) a former Tulsa police officer who is authoring the bill.  “It’s heartbreaking to sit on a couch in someone’s living room and tell them their child has been killed in a car wreck.” 

He said the law would save lives in a state where car wrecks are the number one cause of death and injury for children.

A majority of his fellow lawmakers however argue their constituents don't want more laws and want to keep the government out of their lives.

To head off that argument this year AAA commissioned a poll that showed 81% of Oklahomans would support such legislation.

AAA has also enlisted lots of help this year. A coalition of now 35 organizations and businesses have now pledged to help push this through.