Seat belt enforcement planned

A statewide effort has been launched to encourage the use of safety belts and child restraints as the simplest and most effective way to prevent crash-related injuries and fatalities. It will continue through Sunday, Feb. 22.

A statewide observation survey in June 2014 determined that 98 percent of Oregon drivers were routinely using seat belts, according to Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson. However, Oregon Department of Transportation data reveals the rate for those killed in motor vehicle crashes last year was only 62 percent.

Among those killed or injured were 938 children under the age of 8. A third of them were riding either without any restraint or without adequate restraint.

“Proper use” is required by Oregon law, and that means using the entire belt system — lap belt low across the hips and shoulder belt passing the collarbone and the crossing the center of the chest. Belts should be free of slack and lying flat with no twists or knots.

The belt may not be worn under the arm for comfort, which can result in serious injury or death in a crash.

A child who weighs more than 40 pounds, but is under age 8 or shorter than 4-feet-9, must be properly secured with a child safety system that elevates so that a safety belt or safety harness properly fits. The child safety system must meet the minimum standards and specifications established by the Department of Transportation under Oregon Revised Statutes 815.055.

ODOT reminds drivers of the latest national “best practice” recommendations for child passenger safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new recommendations in 2011, which advises parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they reach the maximum upper height and weight limits for their seat. The policy also advises that most children should ride in a booster seat until they are 4-feet-9 and are between 8 and 12 years old.

The McMinnville Fire Department conducts free child safety seat fittings by appointment at the downtown station, 175 N.E. First St. To schedule an appointment, contact Jeff Cranford at 503-435-5803 or cranfoj@ci.mcminnville.or.us.

For more information on child safety, call 1-877-793-2608 or visit www.childsafetyseat.org.

Violations for not using or improperly using a safety belt, child safety seat or booster seat run $110.

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