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Booster Seats

Oregon Child Occupant Protection Law

Child Restraints
  • Child passengers must be restrained in an approved child safety seat until they
    weigh 40 pounds. 
  • Infants must ride rear facing until they reach both one year of age AND 20 pounds.
Booster Seats
  • Children over 40 pounds OR who have reached the upper weight limit of
    their car seat's harness system, must use a booster seat until they are 4'9" tall OR age 8.
  • The booster seat requirement does not apply when the rear seat of the vehicle is equipped only with lap belts, provided the child is secured by the lap belt.
Safety Belts
  • A child taller than 4’9” OR age 8 or older must be properly secured with the
    vehicle’s safety belt. 
  • The child is properly secured if the lap belt is positioned low across the thighs
    and the shoulder belt is positioned over the collarbone and away from the neck.

The failure to properly use safety belts or child restraints is a Class D traffic violation with
a $110.00 fine - ORS 811.210 and ORS 815.055; effective January 1, 2012.

When Is It Safe For My Child To Ride Without A Booster?

Experts agree and the evidence is conclusive that children are moving to safety belts too soon. Surveys conducted by NHTSA and research published by Partners for Child Passenger Safety, conclude that children between the ages of 4 and 8 years are riding at risk. "Children are at unnecessary risk of being injured in crashes because they are either in the wrong restraint for their size or worse, totally unrestrained," according to former NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, MD.

  • 48% of children between the ages of 4 and 8 killed in
    motor vehicle crashes in 2001 were unrestrained.
  • Using a belt positioning booster (BPB) with a safety belt instead
    of a safety belt alone reduces a child¹s risk of injury by 59%.
  • Children placed in poorly fitting adult safety belts can suffer serious
    life-threatening injuries or risk being ejected from a vehicle in a crash.
Head and Face Injuries Most Common
  • 71% of serious injuries to 4 to 8 year olds are to the head or face.
  • Children in seat belts are 4 times more likely to suffer head/brain injury as compared to children who use a child safety seat (CSS) or BPB.
  • The brain is the organ least likely to recover from injury.

Seat Belt Syndrome Is Also a Problem
Seat Belt Syndrome is a pattern of intra-abdominal and spinal injuries as well as lower extremity injuries. When children are prematurely transitioned into adult safety belts, the lap portion of the belt rides up over the soft abdomen and the shoulder portion crosses the neck or face, causing many children to place the shoulder belt behind them or under their arm. Studies have found that beginning at age 3 there was a sudden drop in appropriate restraint use. By age 6 few children remained in child restraints or booster seats. Children from ages 4 to 8 who were not riding in BPB's were more than three times as likely to sustain an abdominal injury as a child riding in a BPB.

Best Practice Recommendation:
Children riding in a forward-facing seat with a harness should remain in that seat until they reach the upper height and weight limits before graduating to a booster seat. For children who are not at least age 4, but weigh over 40 pounds, an alternative to a booster seat may provide the best protection.

Your child is ready to ride in a safety belt when the answer to all of these questions is YES:

  • Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  • Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  • Does the belt cross the collarbone between the neck and arm?
  • Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the hips and thighs?
  • Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

Adapted from Partners for Child Passenger Safety and Safety Belt Safe USA.

More information on booster seats is available on these web sites:

SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.– Safe Ride Helpline Online

National SAFE KIDS Campaign

Washington State Booster Seat Coalition