Laws vary from state to state regarding how, and up to what age, a child should be restrained in a vehicle. Some parents may even be surprised to find out that state laws do not always coincide with expert recommendations when it comes to safety. In the state of Oklahoma, the Mandatory Child Restraint law protects children under the age of 13. The law states that children 12 and under must be properly restrained whether riding in the front or back seat.
1. Why Restrain?
Bottom line -- restraining prevents injuries. According to the OK.gov website, restraining your child in a safety seat while riding in a vehicle prevents ejection and protects his head, neck and spinal cord. Restraining also spreads the force of an impact over a wider portion of the body and focuses contact on the stronger parts of the child’s body. Proper restraints also allow children to “ride down” or lengthen the amount of time his body has to absorb the energy of impact after an accident. The longer the absorption time frame, the lesser the risk of injury.
2. Ages 5 and Under
The OK.gov website explains that children under the age of 6 must ride in a booster seat or a child car seat. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby should be in a rear facing car seat up until the age of 2 years old, or until she reaches the maximum manufacturers recommended height and weight. Children 2 years old and over, or those who outweigh the manufacturers recommendations on the rear facing car seat, should ride in a front-facing car seat up until the age and weight recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Ages 6 through 12
Children ages 6 through 12 require a child safety seat or seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle, according to the OK.gov website. AAP recommendations for this age group include the use of a belt-positioning booster seat for children who exceed the weight and height limits provided by manufacturers of front facing car seats. The booster seat recommendation continues until the child reaches the age of 8 through 12 and a height of 4 feet 9 inches -- the acceptable age and height recommendations by the AAP for the use of vehicle seatbelts without a booster seat.
The State of Oklahoma lists several exemptions to its child safety seat laws. For instance, if you own a car that did not come equipped with safety belts or if your child is medically excused from wearing safety restraints, you may meet the exemption. Keep in mind that according to OK.gov, the state of Oklahoma requires written authorization from your child’s physician if she has a physical condition that requires freedom from restraints.
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