In Oregon, child safety seat and seatbelt requirements for children vary depending on the age, weight, and height of the child. The law also includes exceptions for certain types of vehicles and circumstances.
This article discusses the law requiring child restraints and seatbelts for children and the penalties for a violation.
Oregon law requires children under eight years old and weighing 40 pounds or less to be secured in a child safety seat.
All children under two years old must be secured in a rear-facing child seat. Oregon does not specifically require that children be placed in the back seat of vehicles. However, "proper use" of a child safety seat prohibits installing a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.
Kids who have outgrown the manufacturer's guidelines for a rear-facing seat generally go to a forward-facing car seat next. Typically, forward-facing seats are appropriate for children who are at least two years old but weigh 40 pounds or less. But, again, parents should always make sure they follow the seat manufacturer's recommendations.
Children who weigh over 40 pounds and are four feet nine inches or shorter are generally required to use a booster seat until age eight.
The booster seat must elevate the child so that the adult safety belt properly fits—meaning, the lap belt must be positioned low across the thighs and the shoulder belt positioned over the collarbone and away from the neck of the child. However, the use of a shoulder belt is not required if the rear seat of the vehicle is equipped only with lap belts.
A booster seat is not required if the child is properly secured in a car seat designed for children weighing more than 40 pounds.
Oregon generally requires everyone in a motor vehicle to wear a seatbelt. When operating a motor vehicle on a highway, a driver with a passenger who is less than 16 years old is responsible for ensuring the child is secured in a child safety system, safety belt, or safety harness.
There are many exceptions to Oregon's safety belt requirements, but only a few apply to children. A child safety system, safety belt, or safety harness is not required if:
Another exception is when the use of a child safety system, safety belt, or safety harness would be impractical or harmful to the child because of a "physical condition, medical problem, or body size." For this exception to apply, a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant must present a signed statement to the Department of Transportation. The department will then issue a certificate of exemption to the person.
Failure to properly use safety belts is a class D traffic violation. The presumptive fine is $115. The maximum fine is $250 and the minimum fine is $65.