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Common sense, some say, isn’t so common anymore. Others ask, what is it? One dictionary summed it up this way: “Good sense; sound judgment in practical matters.” Sounds simple right?

I imagine that more than one of you would agree with me that it gets thrown around a little too much. I usually hear it when someone assumes you should know something like, how to change a tire or the oil in your car. Now, I admit that times have changed; however, my father taught us how to change a tire and even how to change the oil. (I skip the last one because it just doesn’t make good financial sense in my opinion.) I also know that the definition of common sense is not the same for different people, but there are some things that should be universally accepted.

For Oklahoma Senator Carri Hicks, myself and many others one of those universally accepted things is that children should be buckled up when they are in a vehicle. Senator Hicks recently brought to light the fact that Oklahoma doesn’t have a law requiring children between the ages of eight and 17 to wear a seatbelt when they are in the back seat of a vehicle. What? My parents weren’t doctors. They didn’t watch the news all that often or read the copious amount of studies out there concerning seatbelts. They did, however, refuse to start the car without us being buckled up. 

My father was a former police officer, and my mother was a bank employee. They were regular everyday kind of people and yet they understood that seatbelts save lives. More than 25 years later, I still remember a time when I was about 10 or so and my father heard the click of the buckle while he was driving. I remember telling him that I just wasn’t wearing it. He pulled over, told me I was going to wear it; told me how if I didn’t wear it and we were in a wreck, I would fly out of the car and die or worse yet I would bounce around in the car and hit one of them.

He made it abundantly clear that afternoon, “his roof, his rules – his car, his rules.” So, you can imagine my complete shock to learn that Oklahoma doesn’t require teenagers to wear a seatbelt. What you probably can’t imagine is my absolute astonishment that Hick’s fellow committee members were “less than supportive” towards the notion of protecting our youth. The American (and Oklahoma) legal system are set up to protect our youth. It is universally accepted that they have not developed enough so that they make major decisions on their own.

They can’t sign a contract, be tried as an adult (with some exceptions) or buy liquor. Those are just a few things teens under 18 years of age can’t do. I won’t even go into the things that those eight to 16 can’t do. If we don’t trust them with life-changing decisions, why would we trust them with the decision that could end their life? I urge you to contact the committee and tell them that passing this should not be a “heavy lift” as Hicks most recently acknowledged on Facebook that it will be. I also urge you to contact Governor Stitt and let him know that when he promised us he would work hard to make Oklahoma a Top 10 State that we did not envision, nor will accept, being number one in fatalities in the country for minors.

Oklahoma Senate Public Safety Committee Chair - Senator Wayne Shaw Vice Chair - Sen. Lonnie Paxton Senator Micheal Bergstrom Senator Stephanie Bice Senator Larry Boggs Senator Michael Brooks Senator Nathan Dahm Senator Darcy Jech Senator Kevin Matthews Senator Joe Newhouse Senator Dave Rader Senator Darrell Weaver

Oklahoma Seatbelt Law: O.S. §,47-12.417

A. 1. Every operator and front-seat passenger of a Class A commercial motor vehicle, Class B commercial motor vehicle, Class C commercial motor vehicle or a passenger vehicle operated in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, required to be installed in the motor vehicle when manufactured pursuant to 49 C.F.R., Section 571.208.

2. For the purposes of this section, "passenger vehicle" shall mean a Class D motor vehicle, but shall not include trucks, truck-tractors, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, or motorized bicycles, or a vehicle used primarily for
farm use which is registered and licensed pursuant to the provisions of Section 1134 of this title.

B. The Commissioner of Public Safety, upon application from a person who, for medical reasons, is unable to wear a safety seat belt system supported by written attestation of such fact from a physician licensed pursuant to Section 495 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes, may issue to the person an exemption from the provisions of this section. The exemption shall be in the form of a restriction appearing on the driver license of the person and shall remain in effect until the expiration date of the driver license. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the person from applying for another exemption as provided for in this section. The issuance of an attestation by a physician and the subsequent issuance of an exemption by the Commissioner, in good faith, shall not give rise to, nor shall the physician and  the state thereby incur, any liability whatsoever in damages or otherwise, to any person injured by reason of failure of the person to wear a safety seat belt system.

C. This section shall not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle while performing official duties as a route carrier of the U.S. Postal Service.

D. The Department of Public Safety shall not record or assess points for violations of this section on any license holder's traffic record maintained by the Department. 

E. Fine and court costs for violating the provisions of this section shall not exceed Twenty Dollars ($20.00).

F. Municipalities may enact and municipal police officers may enforce ordinances prohibiting and penalizing conduct under provisions of this section, but the provisions of those ordinances shall be the same as provided for in this section, and the enforcement provisions under those ordinances shall not be more stringent than those of this section.