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A Lake Oswego police officer or firefighter answers readers' questions each week in this space.

With the upcoming seat belt enforcement details happening this month, I've heard you can be stopped for wearing a seat belt when the shoulder strap is tucked under your arm. Is that true?

Yes, this is true. If a seat belt system has both a lap and shoulder belt, Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 811.210 requires proper usage and fit of that system. Proper fit means the lap belt is positioned low across the thighs and the shoulder belt is over the collar bone and away from the neck. Having that proper fit is incredibly important to help appropriately disperse the effects of the traffic crash over more solid, skeletal parts of the body. We all know in the event of a crash the seat belt locks into place and in doing so, significantly reduces the chance of injury or death in a collision. If the shoulder strap is tucked under the arm and you are involved in a collision, that strap is now resting along the softer parts of your anatomy instead of those more robust structures. As the occupant moves in the vehicle cabin during the collision, that locked seat belt will press into the soft areas of their anatomy and that could result in significant internal injuries.

Most of the reasons we hear for improper shoulder strap placement are related to comfort. To help that comfort issue and still remain safe, most shoulder straps are adjustable at the vehicle pillar so you can play around with the setting to see what fits and feels best. Additionally, you can look at several after market covers that provide some padding on the seatbelt near your collar bone, provided they don't interfere with the how the seat belt works.

Please wear properly wear your seat belt and ensure others in your vehicle do too. Drive safe!

— Clayton Simon, traffic lieutenant

To submit a question, call Editor Patrick Malee at 503-479-2379 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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