Our twins were born before our oldest turned two, so my wife and I spent a ton of time researching car seats! At the time, the Honda Odyssey was the only minivan we could find that safely fit three car seats on the same row.
Car seats are an essential safety feature for children, and you must ensure you use one when driving with your child. According to the CDC, car accidents are the leading cause of death in children, and in 2017, 675 children were involved in fatal accidents, and another 116,000 were injured. In 35% of these cases, the children were not buckled up properly, meaning these deaths could have been avoided using a car seat and a seatbelt. Unfortunately, most people are unsure how long they need to use a car seat and the laws around car seats in Oklahoma. This guide will tell you everything you should know about Oklahoma car seat laws and how to use a car seat correctly. So you can make sure that your child is always safe and that you are following the guidelines correctly.
- Oklahoma Car Seat Laws by Age
- Selecting the Appropriate Car Seat
- Supportive Oklahoma Car Seat Programs
- Protocol When Stopped by Police with a Child in the Car
- Key Car Seat Safety Recommendations
- Car Seat FAQs
- What is the age requirement for rear-facing car seats in Oklahoma?
- Can I use a booster seat for my 4-year-old in Oklahoma?
- Are there exemptions to Oklahoma’s car seat laws?
- How can I ensure my car seat is installed correctly?
- What should I do with an expired or damaged car seat?
- How do I know if my child is ready to move from a booster seat to a seat belt?
- Is purchasing a used car seat advisable?
- Can I leave my child in the car seat when not in the vehicle?
- How often should I check my child’s car seat fit?
- Where can I find a car seat installation check in Oklahoma?
- Car Seat Safety Tips
Oklahoma Car Seat Laws by Age
Oklahoma’s car seat regulations are age-specific and, in certain cases, height-specific.
Infants (0–2 Years)
Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat while traveling in a vehicle.
Toddlers (2–4 Years)
Post-toddlerhood, children are no longer legally required to be in rear-facing seats but must be in forward-facing car seats until they turn four.
Young Children (4–8 Years)
Contrary to popular belief, children between four and eight years of age must use a car seat or booster seat unless they exceed 4’9” in height.
Older Children (8 Years and Above)
Children aged eight or taller than 4’9” are not mandated by law to use a car seat but are required to wear a seatbelt in the vehicle.
Consequences for Non-Compliance
Failing to adhere to Oklahoma car seat laws can lead to fines of up to $100, points on your driving record, and possible criminal charges for repeat violations.
Selecting the Appropriate Car Seat
Your child’s safety hinges on choosing the right car seat and using it correctly.
Car Seat Categories
- Infant Car Seats: Tailored for newborns and infants, these seats are exclusively rear-facing and are a legal requirement for infants.
- Convertible Car Seats: Adaptable seats that can be modified from rear-facing to forward-facing to accommodate your growing child.
- All-in-One Car Seats: These seats offer the full spectrum of transitions from rear-facing to forward-facing and eventually to booster seats, suitable until your child is eight years old.
Considerations When Purchasing a Used Car Seat
While pre-owned car seats can offer financial savings, verifying that they have not expired or been compromised in an accident is imperative, as this could affect their safety performance.
Supportive Oklahoma Car Seat Programs
For guidance and support with car seats, the following resources are available:
- OU Children’s Hospital
- Oklahoma State Department of Health
- Oklahoma Highway Safety Office
- Central Oklahoma Healthy Start
The Highway Safety Office also offers financial assistance for car seats to those who qualify.
Protocol When Stopped by Police with a Child in the Car
If stopped by law enforcement in Oklahoma City with your child in the car, remain composed, follow the officer’s directives, and ensure your child remains properly secured in their car seat.
Key Car Seat Safety Recommendations
Correct installation and usage are essential to maximize the protective benefits of car seats. Straps should be snug, the rear-facing position maintained as long as possible, and transitions to booster seats should not be rushed. Always monitor the car seat’s expiration date and replace it post-accident or upon reaching its expiry.
Car Seat FAQs
What is the age requirement for rear-facing car seats in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, children under two years old must be in a rear-facing car seat while in a vehicle.
Can I use a booster seat for my 4-year-old in Oklahoma?
Yes, children over four who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats can transition to a booster seat until they are tall enough for a seat belt to fit properly.
Are there exemptions to Oklahoma’s car seat laws?
Yes, exemptions are available for certain medical conditions with a physician’s written statement, as well as religious exemptions with a declaration to the Department of Public Safety.
How can I ensure my car seat is installed correctly?
Seek assistance from a certified car seat technician and adhere to the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.
What should I do with an expired or damaged car seat?
Replace any car seat that is expired or has been damaged to ensure your child’s safety.
How do I know if my child is ready to move from a booster seat to a seat belt?
The seat belt should fit across the shoulder and chest without crossing the neck or face, and the lap belt should rest snugly across the upper thighs.
Is purchasing a used car seat advisable?
A used car seat is acceptable if it is not expired, has not been in an accident, and is from a trusted source.
Can I leave my child in the car seat when not in the vehicle?
Leaving a child unattended in a car seat, especially outside the vehicle, is not recommended.
How often should I check my child’s car seat fit?
Check the car seat fit regularly and adjust straps and seating as your child grows.
Where can I find a car seat installation check in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and various health organizations offer car seat installation checks and support throughout the state.
Car Seat Safety Tips
When using a car seat, you must fit it correctly to ensure your child is safe. These car seat safety tips will help you to make sure that you are using your car seat properly at all times. The biggest mistake that parents make is not fastening the straps tightly enough. You want your child to be comfortable, but the straps keep your child secure, and if you don’t tighten them properly, it is unsafe. If you use a good car seat, the straps will not hurt your child. If you are unsure how to tighten the belts, this video will walk you through the process.