Starting on February 1, Eugene Police Traffic Safety Unit will be participating in a statewide Safety Belt campaign. The campaign is a two-week, statewide selective traffic safety program that seeks to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries by increasing public awareness about the use of safety restraints and proper use of child safety seats. While these goals are pursued year-round by many agencies, including Eugene Police Department and the Springfield Police Department, the campaign provides federal funding for overtime that allows officers statewide to join together for two-week periods of intensive, high-visibility enforcement and safety education.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts
Traffic Safety Unit would like to remind motorists that seatbelts must be worn in the manner in which they are specifically designed in order to be in compliance with the law. Wearing a shoulder belt under your arm is against the law and can result in a citation. Oregon Department of Transportation crash data for 2018 shows lack of safety belt or child restraint use was a factor in 28 percent, or 86 of a total 311 motor vehicle occupant fatalities.
According to ODOT, motor vehicle crashes are the leading nationwide cause of death for children ages one through 12 years old. In 2018, 1,832 children under 12 were injured in Oregon traffic crashes, 11 percent were reported not using a child restraint system. It is estimated that car seats may increase crash survival by 71 percent for infants under the age of one, and by up to 59 percent for toddlers aged one to four. Booster seats may reduce the chance of nonfatal injury among four to eight year old’s by 45 percent compared to safety belts used alone.
It’s also important that motorists are familiar with current child safety seat laws. Infants are required to ride in rear-facing safety seats until they reach both two years of age AND twenty pounds. Children over two years old AND between 20 and 40 pounds must be properly secured with a forward-facing child safety seat. Children who weigh over 40 pounds must be properly secured in a booster seat until they are 4’9 in height. Children who are at least 8 years old or 4’9 tall may graduate to an adult safety belt, but only if it fits them properly.
This traffic safety message and operation supports the City of Eugene Vision Zero goal. Vision Zero is an approach to transportation safety that aims to eliminate deaths and life-changing injuries caused by traffic crashes.