The simplest and most effective thing anyone can do to be safe while riding in a motor vehicle is to wear a seat belt.
Iowa has maintained a primary safety belt law since July 1, 1986. A primary law means a law enforcement official may legally stop a motorist if they are observed not wearing a safety belt. In 2018, the Iowa Legislature passed a law requiring all passengers under the age of 18 riding in the backseat of a vehicle to be properly belted. This single passage of law can reduce the potential of injury or death by eliminating passengers in becoming human missiles.
The Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau is responsible for the completion and reporting of a statewide annual observational seat belt usage survey. The survey methodology is in compliance with the Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2011. The target population of the study includes all drivers and right-front passengers of all passenger vehicles that travel on Iowa's public roadways between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. in all days of the calendar year.
Iowa law enforcement officials are vital in occupant protection education and enforcement to increase awareness of the dangers of not buckling up, enforce Iowa's primary seat belt law and help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes on Iowa's roadways.
Child Passenger Safety and Inspection Stations
Iowa maintains a very strong Child Passenger Safety (CPS) program which is coordinated through Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. The CPS program is statewide and has reached thousands of people. The state currently has over 350 certified CPS Technicians who have undergone specialized training and who assist parents and caregivers on the proper installation and use of child restraint systems.
A large component of Iowa's CPS program is the child restraint inspection stations throughout the state. The inspection stations are a multi-disciplinary effort where parents/caregivers can learn the correct use of child restraints. The stations are staffed with a nationally certified CPS Technician but many law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and local hospitals also offer assistance at these events.
Car Fit Stations
CarFit is a free educational event for older drivers (though younger drivers would benefit as well) to provide information on their position within the vehicle enhancing their ability to drive safely. The participants go through a 12-point checklist covering seat position, steering wheel adjustment, head rest, safety belt, mirrors (a big section) and access to secondary controls. The Check-Out station is manned by an Occupational Therapist who reviews any problem areas and makes recommendations for compensatory strategies, if needed. This is all completed in a 20 minute block of time.
The Check-Up is completed by trained CarFit technicians. The techs must participate in a 4-hour training session. It is about 2-2 ½ hours of classroom training, followed by hands-on practice, where we use each other and our vehicles to practice (this portion is completed in the parking lot of the training site). After techs have participated in 2-3 CarFit events, he or she would be eligible to go through Event Coordinator Training, where he/she could organize and carry out an event, including training technicians.
The CarFit program is important for older drivers who are a large part of Iowa’s driving population. You can find more information at: https://car-fit.org.
Go to DriveSmartIowa.com for more information on seat belt safety.