The full Senate prioritized child safety on Monday with the passage of Senate Bill 1303.
Authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, the measure would require any child under the age of 17 to wear a seat belt while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. Current Oklahoma law only requires children under the age of eight and passengers in the front seat to buckle up.
“Oklahoma is the only state in the entire country that doesn’t require seat belts for kids over the age of eight, and it’s no coincidence that vehicle fatalities are the number one cause of death for children eight and older here in Oklahoma,” Pederson said. “The bottom line is, children are being hurt and dying simply because we don’t require them to wear a seat belt.”
AAA reports Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation in protecting children in car crashes.
Pederson said he decided to run the measure after speaking with Drummond Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members Danica Jordan and Destiny Hudson. Both girls lobbied for stricter seat belt requirements after experiencing firsthand the lifesaving difference a seat belt can make.
“I’m glad Danica and Destiny brought these troubling statistics to my attention,” Pederson said. “We know seat belts save lives, and it’s past time for our children to buckle up. If we want to be a Top 10 state, we need to take action to protect the safety of our children.
The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, is the House author for the bill.
For more information, contact: Sen. Roland Pederson at 405-521-5630, or email Roland.Pederson@oksenate.gov.
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