The full Senate voted to prioritize child safety on Monday by passing Senate Bill 339, which would require any child 17 years old and younger riding in the back seat of a passenger vehicle to properly wear a seatbelt. The measure is authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington.
The bill was one of many approved by the Senate last year, but stalled in the House due to the shortened session caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pederson re-introduced the bill this legislative session.
“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 over this age here in our state,” Pederson said. “Requiring seat belts for all children is a commonsense measure that will save lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death for children ages five to 19. Oklahoma requires the driver, front seat passenger and child passengers under the age of eight to wear a seat belt, but has no requirements on the books for children ages eight to 17.
“I had the opportunity to meet with two young ladies from Drummond last year who both experienced the lifesaving difference of wearing a seatbelt,” Pederson. “Their passion for child safety on the roads and personal experiences inspired me to run this bill. Every Oklahoma child is important, and we must do all we can to ensure their safety. We know seat belts are effective, and it’s far past time for our children in the back seat to buckle up.”
The measure now heads to the House where Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, is serving as the House principal author.
For more information, contact: Sen. Roland Pederson at 405-521-5630, or email Roland.Pederson@oksenate.gov