Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) urge all travelers to remember that proper safety restraint usage is the single most effective way to protect against injuries or death in a motor vehicle crash.

On March 27, 2014 at approximately 11:37 p.m., a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban driven by a female, age 38, from Salem, was eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 234, west of Meacham in northeastern Oregon, when she lost control on black ice. The vehicle rolled several times crossing through the median before coming to rest on the westbound shoulder.

The Suburban was occupied by six family members. A 5-year old boy was not properly restrained and was ejected from the rolling vehicle, coming to rest seriously injured in the westbound lanes. The child was initially transported by air ambulance to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton. He was then taken by air ambulance to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland for treatment of serious injuries.

Seat Belts Save Lives

The greatest danger to unbelted children and adult occupants is ejection from the vehicle, and an unbelted or improperly restrained occupant is five times more likely to be ejected than one who is belted.

The odds of not surviving ejection are estimated at one in four, compared to a one in two hundred fatality rate for occupants who remain inside the vehicle. Ejection is the principal reason that minors are prohibited from riding in an open bed of a pickup truck.

Adults should place lap belts low across hips with the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest over the collarbone, free of slack and lying flat with no twists or knots. The shoulder belt should NOT be placed under the arm or behind the back – this can cause serious internal injuries or ejection in a crash.

How to Buckle in Your Child

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.

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 fitting stations can be found at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm or at http://oregonimpact.org/car-seat-resources/