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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Iowa Research Finds Infants Properly Restrained in Vehicles, Older Kids Still at Risk

Iowa infants are almost always safely secured in motor vehicles, and more parents are properly restraining toddler passengers as well, according to a statewide survey conducted by the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC).

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[Photo: Mr. John Lundell

Results from the survey indicate that the vast majority of Iowans understand the importance of restraining their children. This is especially true for infants with nearly all (99.6 percent) being restrained in child safety seats. Of the 794 toddlers (2-5 years of age) observed, 5.4 percent were restrained only by a seatbelt. It remains important that Iowans must be informed on the importance of using booster seats. Overall, 91.5 percent of all children observed were properly restrained.

Survey results indicated lower restraint use in the more rural communities. The survey also collects information on child placement within the vehicle—front seat vs. back seat. Safety experts strongly recommend placing all children in the rear seat regardless of their age. Overall, 73 percent of all children and youth were observed in the back seat. Almost all of the children in child safety seats (99 percent) and booster seats (98 percent) were placed in the backseat, while 54 percent of those restrained only with a seat belt were secured in the rear location. Of the passengers riding unrestrained, the percentage riding in the front seat increased from 33 percent in 2013 to 45 Percent in 2014. The inclusion of youth ages 11-17 beginning in the 2010 survey has had a significant influence on both the overall percentage riding in the rear seat and on those being restrained by only a seatbelt. These results highlight the continued need to reach out to teens on the importance of occupant restraint use.

“It is very encouraging that almost 98 percent of the infants in Iowa are being properly restrained,” says Mr. John Lundell, deputy director of the IPRC, who directed the study. “However, we need to increase efforts to ensure that all children – and all passengers for that matter – are properly restrained per Iowa law.”

To conduct the child passenger safety survey, trained surveyors observed over 3,000 children during the months of May through August, 2014, in 36 Iowa communities ranging in size from 1,400 residents to 203,000 residents.

The annual survey, funded by the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, is conducted to measure compliance with the Iowa child passenger restraint law and to direct educational efforts.