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Organization encouraging tougher seat belt laws in Oklahoma

AAA Oklahoma is among the groups that want state legislators to change state law regarding seat belt usage by children.

Under current Oklahoma law, the state doesn't require youngsters between ages 8 and 14 to wear seat belts in the backseat of a car. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports that Oklahoma is the only state to allow that.

"This is a risk that should not be taken with the lives of our children," a AAA Oklahoma spokeswoman said.

"We are the only state in the nation that does not have a law requiring children to be bucked up until at least the age of 15," she added. "The majority of states-- 40 states-- require that for all minors. That's what we would like to see. All minors be required to wear seat belts in the back seats and eventually all passengers in any vehicle should be belted."

State lawmakers have been reluctant to pass such a bill, even though car accidents are the No. 1 cause of injuries and death for Oklahoma's kids, the AAA official said. In the past five years, 1,136 minors between ages 8 and 17 have been killed or seriously injured, the safety office reported, and the majority of those who died were not buckled.

"You are 50 percent less likely to die in a car wreck just by virtue of wearing a seat belt or having your child wearing a seat belt. So, we can't imagine why anyone wouldn't feel like that isn't an appropriate law, standard and norm for our society," the AAA spokeswoman said.

The safety of our children should be the top priority for parents and lawmakers. Unfortunately, we see too many of our promising youngsters killed in car accidents on Oklahoma roads.

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