No matter where you live, using a car seat to keep your child safe while you are driving should always be foremost in your mind. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of death in small children.
In 2017, 675 children were killed in fatal car accidents, and over 110,000 children were injured as well. In nearly 35% of these car accident incidents, it was discovered that the children involved were not correctly buckled into their cars.
That means many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented by the correct use of a seatbelt and child car seat. Many individuals are unaware of the laws in Oklahoma regarding car seats and children. To help you out, we created this guide to cover what you’ll need to know about Oklahoma car seat laws and how you can ensure that you are properly using your car seat to prevent any injury to your child.
Oklahoma Car Seat Laws and Age Requirements
In the state of Oklahoma, you’ll need to follow specific requirements when it comes to car seats and the age of your child. Most of the car seat laws in this state are based on your child’s age. However, some of the laws also consider your child’s height. Below we’ll cover the car seat laws in Oklahoma based on age requirements.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to try to keep your child riding in the back seat of your car for as long as you possibly can, too. Many expert studies demonstrate that keeping children in the back seat using a safety seat or a seat belt once your child ages out of a car seat can be a life-saving measure if you were to get involved in a car accident.
In Oklahoma, children that are two years of age or younger are required to be buckled into a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of your car whenever you are driving with them. Rear-facing car seats provide ample protection for very young infants and toddlers, securing their necks from experiencing injury during an accident.
When your child reaches the age of two, you will no longer need to keep him or her in a rear-facing car seat. However, you’ll still need to utilize a car seat for your toddler as long as he or she is between the ages of two and four years old. Once a child is older than two years of age, Oklahoma requires that you put your child in a forward-facing car seat whenever you are driving.
Some people think that once a child in the state of Oklahoma is older than four years of age, he or she no longer needs a car seat. However, this is a mistaken assumption, and it is also a dangerous one. Oklahoma requires that children that are between the ages of four and eight years old still be secured in a car seat or a booster seat while you are driving. If your child is taller than 4’9” or older than eight, then this rule no longer applies.
8 Years and above
Once your child is over the age of eight or reaches a height that is taller than 4’9”, then he or she no longer needs to use a car seat. Regardless, your child must still always wear a seatbelt while riding in a vehicle with you.
Also, as we mentioned above, it’s wise to keep your child sitting in the back seat of your car for as long as possible. Since the back seat has been proven to be a safer place for children to be in while riding in a car, you should consider your child’s safety for as long as you possibly can.
Breaking Oklahoma Car Seat Laws
If you break any of the Oklahoma car seat laws, you will incur penalties as outlined by the state. If you are discovered driving with your child in your car, and you do not have the right child safety seat for your child, then you may be fined. For a first offense, the maximum fine is $50.
However, the state can bring the total amount up to $207.90 when court costs are added to this occasion. If you are caught a second time breaking the same law, the fines can then increase significantly depending on the police officer and the judge involved in your court case.
How To Choose The Right Car Seat in Oklahoma
To ensure the safety of your child every time you drive with him or her, you’ll need to make sure you purchase the right car seat. That will also keep you from experiencing any fines or court appearances, too. Nowadays, there are several different types of car seats that you’ll find available on the market. There are three major categories of car seats, and the one you’ll most likely use will depend on the age of your child.
Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats are made to secure newborns, young babies, and young toddlers until the child reaches two years of age. These car seats are rear-facing seats. By law, all infants and toddlers must use rear-facing car seats in the state of Oklahoma until they are two years of age.
Infant car seats are lightweight and portable, but your child will eventually outgrow this type of car seat. Once that happens, you will need to purchase another car seat that matches your child’s age and weight requirement to ensure the safety of your baby each time you drive your car.
Convertible Car Seats
The next category of car seats you’ll come across is a convertible car seat. Convertible car seats are adjustable, so you can modify this type of safety seat as your child grows and becomes larger. Convertible car seats also come with a harness to make it easy to change it from a rear-facing car seat into a forward-facing car seat once your child reaches the age of two.
Many parents prefer purchasing convertible car seats since their children never outgrow them. While a convertible car seat can cost a little more than some other options, purchasing one means, you’ll never need another safety seat for your child. You’ll only need to adjust your safety seat as your child grows to keep your baby safe.
All-in-One Car Seats
Similar to convertible car seats, all-in-one car seats offer everything that a convertible car seat does, but also works as a booster seat. So, all-in-one car seats go the extra distance with your child and will help you stay compliant with the law until your child reaches the age of eight.
Oklahoma Car Seat Programs
If you are new to purchasing a car seat for your child, where can you go to get help? Luckily, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office has a car seat program option that helps guide parents to picking the right car seat for their child as well as installing and fitting that car seat properly to ensure the safety of your child. In Oklahoma, you can visit one of many inspection stations across the state that will check your child’s car seat for free, and also show you how to use it properly.
You can either stop by your local fire department or police station, where they will check out your child’s car seat for free. Or you can visit one of the following places:
- OU Children’s Hospital: 1200 Mark R Everett Dr, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
- Oklahoma State Department of Health: 1000 NE 10th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
- Oklahoma Highway Safety Office: 3223 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
- Central Oklahoma Healthy Start: 3017 N Martin Luther King Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Also, if you are having problems affording a car seat, you may be able to receive assistance. The Highway Safety Office in Oklahoma is willing to provide free car seats to people that cannot afford them. If you are having difficulties affording a car seat for your child, you can ask them for assistance.