Seatbelt Usage in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has had a seatbelt law in place since February 1987. However, it did not become a primary enforcement state until ten years later, November 1997. The seatbelt law applies to everyone nine years old and up in the front seat.
A primary enforcement state means that a police officer may stop a person and give them a traffic ticket for not wearing a seatbelt with no other traffic violation involved. The penalty for this offense is a fine up to $20 for a first-time offender.
The state also has a child safety seat law requiring children under two years old to be in a rear-facing restraint seat. Children under age four must be kept in a child restraint seat and those up to eight years old must be in a booster seat. Violation of the child safety seat law may result in a fine up to $50 for a first offense. There are no laws regarding the rear seatbelts for adults.
Oklahoma is just slightly below the national average of 86 percent for seatbelt usage. In 2012, it was at 84 percent, just two points behind the US average. However, the state is well above the national average for traffic fatalities. According to data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the rate of traffic fatalities in Oklahoma in 2015 was 16.4 per 100,000 population as compared to the US average of 10.9.
The state has improved its rate of seatbelt wearers since 2007 when it was at 83.1 percent. In 2015, the rate was up to 86.3 percent. Oklahoma is considered part of the South region, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The South is in second place for seatbelt use at 89.2 percent as a whole. It falls right behind the West at 95.0 percent.