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Roseburg police are participating in a safety enforcement blitz that will educate drivers on the importance of seat belts and child seats.

The Roseburg Police Department will be participating in a statewide Safety Belt Enforcement Blitz from Aug. 20 to Sept. 2.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Oregon will use federally-funded overtime to educate people on safety belt and child seat laws. The focus of this event will be on safety belt usage, child restraint usage, texting and speeding.

Oregon Department of Transportation crash data for 2016 shows that a lack of safety belt and child restraint usage was a factor in 26 percent of motor vehicle occupant fatalities. Safety belts used correctly can reduce the risk of major crash injuries or death by up to 65 percent, according to police.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death nationwide for children ages 1 to 12. In 2016, 1,582 children under 9 years old were injured in Oregon traffic crashes and five children died, according to a police department press release. It is estimated that car seats may increase crash survival by 71 percent for infants under 1 year of age and by up to 59 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4. Booster seats may reduce the chance of nonfatal injury among 4- to 8-year-olds by 45 percent compared to safety belts used alone.

Police will also use this opportunity to teach people about a newly passed Oregon law aimed at increasing safety for children. The law requires children under 2 years of age to use car seats with a harness in a rear-facing position. This is unless the child turned 1 prior to May 26, 2017. Children over the age of 2 must continue to ride in a car seat with the harness or in a booster seat until they turn 8 or are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall. The law used to apply to children under 1 year of age.

This better protects a child’s head, neck and spine from potential crash injuries, according to police. Research has shown that children in the second year of life are five times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat.

The Roseburg Police Department’s participation in the enforcement blitz was made possible due to a grant from ODOT, according to the release.

Eric Schucht is a general assignment reporter for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4217 or eschucht@nrtoday.com. Or follow him on Twitter

@EricSchucht.

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Eric Schucht is the Charles Snowden intern at The News-Review. He recently graduated from the University of Oregon.

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