Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in 2010, auto accidents were the number one or number two killer across all age groups, with the exception of infants younger than 12 months, in which automobile accidents were third. For the youngest infants, the top two killers are accidental suffocation and homicide. [caption id="attachment_1835" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image Credit: SafeKidsOK.org[/caption] While car accidents were second to unintentional drowning in children aged 1-4, second to accidental poisoning (including drug overdose) in adults aged 25-64, and second to accidental falls in adults aged 65 and older as a leading cause of death, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death in children and young adults aged 5-24. The CDC reported last year that children's accidental deaths decreased an astounding 30 percent in the first decade of the millenium, and their report credits improved use of car seats and child safety seats, as well as a graduated driver's licensing system, for a 41 percent decline in motor vehicle crash deaths among children and young adults aged 1-19. Most people are aware that Oklahoma has a seat belt law, a so-called "nanny law" that requires drivers and front seat passengers aged 13 and older to wear a seat belt. Oklahoma's seat belt law is a primary law, meaning a police officer can pull over a vehicle and issue a citation for a seat belt infraction alone. The seat belt violation does not have to be secondary to another traffic violation. While the seat belt law applies to teens and adults aged 13 and older, children aged 12 and younger are covered by the Oklahoma Mandatory Child Restraint Law. Following are three basic provisions of that law:
- Children aged 12 and younger are to be properly restrained in a child or infant car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.
- Children aged 5 and younger must be in a car seat or booster seat.
- It is the responsibility of the driver to insure that all children are properly restrained in the vehicle.