Back Seat Safety a Growing Concern for State Patrol

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa State Patrol estimates that 9-out-of-10 drivers have passengers who have their seat belts buckled incorrectly.

“There are so many ways to do it wrong,” said Sgt. Nate Ludwig, Iowa State Patrol. “There is only one way to do it right.”

A recent poll of 1,077 Iowans showed that 85% of Iowans always buckle up in the front seat, yet only 36% always buckle up in the back seat.

“This is a huge issue,” said Sgt. Ludwig. “Not buckling properly is just as bad as not buckling at all.”

The State Patrol just released a study that places an emphasis on rear seat belt use . It also highlights the importance of being buckled no matter where you are sitting in a vehicle.

Currently, Iowa law does not address rear seat belt use for adults, 18 or older, so the focus for now is strong educational push to increase rear belt use and thus saving lives.

Sgt. Ludwig says that this is an easy fix and most issues can be solved in the car if you just slow down.

“Just take your time,” said Sgt. Ludwig. “It doesn’t matter how long you are on the road, you need to have that kid properly buckled in.”

The State Patrol recommends contact local agencies to help insure child safety. Sgt. Ludwig said one best resources is Blank Children's Hospital’s Child Passenger Safety site. Below is a portion of the stages you should follow.

Rear Facing

Children should ride rear-facing until the maximum weight limit of their seat allows. At a minimum, per Iowa law, a child must stay rear-facing until 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds - both criteria, not one or the other.

Forward Facing

When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat, with a harness system until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. A child is too big for the seat when the shoulders are above the top slots, the tops of the ears are above the back of the seat or the weight limit is exceeded.

Booster Seats

Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats with a harness, they should ride in a booster seat. Booster seats MUST be used in a seating position that has a lap AND shoulder belt. Never use a booster with the lap belt only.

Vehicle Seat Belt

A child can graduate out of a booster seat once they can successfully pass the Safety Belt Fit Test.