OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — Police agencies around the state are kicking off car safety campaigns as summer comes to an end and kids head back to school.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, an overwhelming 90% of parents do not know how to properly install car seats.
“They just don’t know what they don’t know,” Tammy Franks, child passenger safety coordinator with Randall Children’s Hospital, said.
It’s a disturbing number, considering car crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-12.
Franks told KOIN 6 News she doesn’t blame parents for installing car seats incorrectly, and that’s why she’s spent more than a decade working to educate them.
“Sometimes parents want to put them in a booster seat before they reach 40 pounds,” Franks explained. “Often what parents are doing wrong is that they’re allowing their children to buckle themselves in.”
When that happens, Franks said, the shoulder belt often ends up on top. It’s a common mistake that can be extremely dangerous in the event of a crash.
Campaigns kicked off by local police departments and sheriff’s offices are focusing on seat belt use, booster seats, distracted driving involving cell phones and speeding.
“We’ll have officers on the roads looking for infractions,” Oregon City Police Sgt. Matthew Paschall said. “Sheriff’s deputies and police officers all across Oregon are taking those violations seriously, and will be aggressively looking for violators all week for their safety belt blitz.”
According to ODOT and the U.S. Department of Transportation, “child car seats increase crash survival by 71% for infants under 1 year old and by up to 59% for toddlers aged 1 to 4. Booster seats reduce the chance of nonfatal injury among 4 to 8-year-olds by 45% compared to safety belts alone. Safety belts reduce the chance of fatal injury to adults by 45 to 65%.”
Oregon law requires children weighing less than 40 pounds to sit in child car seats. Children under 1 year, or weighing less than 20 pounds, must be in a rear-facing child seat.
Children weighing more than 40 pounds must be in either a child seat or booster seat for their size until they turn 8-years-old or reach 4-feet-9-inches tall and the adult seat belts fit them correctly.