State Senator Clark Jolley has authored a measure which encourages more drivers to ensure young children are properly secured in child safety seats. Senate Bill 799 would boost the current fine from ten dollars to one hundred dollars.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are the leading cause of death among American children between the ages of one to four years old. We also know the correct use of child safety seats can decrease traffic fatalities by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for children who are one to four years of age,” said Jolley, R-Edmond.
In Oklahoma, an estimated 54,000 children are at risk of serious injury or death because their parents fail to use child safety seats. But Sen. Jolley said the current fine was little more than a slap on the wrist.
“If you fail to stop at a stop sign or run a red light, there is a fine of $173.90. If you endanger other people’s lives by driving recklessly, your first offense has a fine of $417.40. But you can currently endanger a child’s life and future by not properly restraining them in a vehicle and be fined just $10.00 plus $15.00 in court costs,” Jolley said. “My bill raises it to $100 plus court costs.”
“This is a public safety issue with the health and well-being of Oklahoma’s children in the balance. A child under the age of one weighing 20 pounds can create the force of 400 pounds when the car is moving just 20 miles an hour. Even if the child survives, the risk of serious injury is far too high,” Jolley said. “I believe by raising the penalty to something substantive, more parents will think twice about following the law.”
Sen. Jolley pointed out that several organizations provide low or no-cost child safety seats to parents of young children. The Oklahoma Safe Kids Coalition can help parents find out how to obtain free or low cost car seats at 405-271-5695 or on the web at www.oksafekids.org.
“There simply is no excuse for not making sure children are properly restrained while riding in cars. The law is already on the books—this merely puts some teeth into it for the first time,” Jolley said.