Seat Belt Bill Wins Oklahoma House Support

AAA Oklahoma is lending support to a bill recently passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives increasing the age of children who must be buckled up in the back seat of a vehicle.

HB3026 by Rep. Emily Virgin (D-Norman) increases the age from 8 to 14. AAA Oklahoma and Virgin point out that there is presently no law requiring adults to buckle up children 8 to 13 years old in the back seat.

While the bill had unanimous support in the Public Safety Committee, it had some opposition when the House voted last week. The final vote was 51 to 37. The bill was formally sent to the State senate on Monday of this week.

Those behind the movement to increase the age include the AAA Oklahoma and child advocacy groups such as Safe Kids Tulsa, Safe Kids Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Injury Prevention Task Force.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported that in the last five years, 5,198 Oklahoma children between the ages of 8 and 13 were injured or killed in crashes.  Figures showed that 660 of the children were not wearing a seat belt or restrained in a car seat.

“Requiring children to ride securely in seat belts in the back seat is a proven way to save lives,” said Beth Washington, Coordinator of Safe Kids Tulsa Area. “This gap needs to be closed immediately as it puts children at great risk and was not the intent of previous legislation.”