SALEM, Ore. -

In Oregon last year, 997 child passengers under age 8 were injured and three were killed in motor vehicles crashes. Of these, 12 were riding totally unrestrained, ODOT officials said Monday.

Among 4- to 8-year-olds who, by law, should be riding in restraints designed for children, one in three was restrained in an adult belt system.

It's critical that child passengers use the right safety restraint for their age, weight and size – and to help ensure this, law enforcement from local police agencies, sheriff offices and Oregon State Police will participate in the "Click It or Ticket" overtime campaign throughout the state from Aug. 25 – Sept. 7.

"Child safety seats reduce the likelihood of infants being killed in a crash by 71 percent," said Carla Levinski, ODOT's Occupant Protection Safety manager. "Using the right restraint reduces the likelihood of fatalities for toddlers aged 1 to 4 by more than half."

Clearly, it's worth the effort to make sure our most vulnerable passengers are buckled up correctly. And most Oregonians do: a statewide observation survey from June 2013 found 98 percent of Oregon's motoring public using safety belts, making Oregon the highest belt use state in the country.

Still, in 2012, 61 of Oregon's 198 occupant fatalities were reportedly unrestrained.

ODOT provides grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for overtime safety belt enforcement campaigns.

Studies show that the greatest danger to unbelted occupants is ejection from a vehicle, and the odds of surviving ejection are estimated at one in four – compared to a one in two hundred fatality rate for occupants who remain inside the vehicle.

For child passengers, Oregon law states the following:

  • A child weighing less than 40 pounds must be properly restrained in a child safety seat. 

  • A child under one year of age or weighing less than twenty pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing child seat. 

  • A child over forty pounds but under age eight or less than 4’ 9” tall must be restrained in either a child seat with harness system or in a booster seat that raises the child up so that a lap and shoulder belt system fit correctly. 

ODOT encourages caregivers to place children under age 13 in rear seating positions whenever possible and to send in their car safety seat and booster seat registrations to ensure they receive important recall information.

For help with child seats, refer to the seat manufacturer's instructions, vehicle owner's manual, or your local child seat fitting station. A list of Oregon fitting stations is available at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm or at http://oregonimpact.org/car-seat-resources/.