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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

A Comprehensive Guide to the Iowa Car Seat Laws: Everything There's to Know

From recent data collections, the fourth-highest rate of child death resulting from car accidents occurs in Iowa. The unfortunate truth is that road crashes take away countless young lives each day. In only Iowa, almost four out of 100,000 children are killed in vehicle-related accidents each year.

The leading cause of most of these deaths is the improper use of restraint systems. Otherwise, this death is the result of not using any restraint system. Nonetheless, there's a way that parents and guardians can put a stop to this. By understanding traffic laws, individuals can become educated on Iowa car seat laws. With such knowledge, parents can learn how to protect their children while traveling in a car. Let's take a deeper dive into the child restraint system laws in Iowa and recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Car Seat Law in Iowa

Car Seat Law in Iowa

The car seat law in the state of Iowa stipulates that any child under the age of one year old or weighing less than 20 pounds must be secured in a child's rear-facing car seat. This kids' car seat being used is required to meet all requirements and be the appropriate size for the child's age and weight. When looking at Iowa car seat laws, use of motorcycles and school businesses aren't required to follow these laws regarding the rear-faced restraint system.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

As a child approaches the age of 2 and surpasses the weight limit of 20 pounds, it becomes legal under Iowa state law to install a forward-facing seat. In Iowa, children are required to stay in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the age of 6. From here, these kids can graduate from a forward-facing to a booster seat.

Parents should consult with the seat manufacturer's instructions for installation. Additionally, parents should ensure the forward-facing seat manual from the manufacturer to ensure their child weighs enough and is old enough for this specific car seat model. This child should remain in a forward-facing model until they are at least four years old, as recommended by health and safety technicians.

Using a Rear-Facing Car Seat

As previously mentioned, a child aged 0 to 12 months old weighing less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-faced restraint system. Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants up to 2-years old be kept in this rear-facing seat while traveling in a car.

When a child is secured in a rear-facing car seat, this specific rear-facing system must align with all federal regulations. By this, these rear-facing car seats should be installed properly. Moreover, this rear-facing car seat should be equipped with a five-point harness to safely restrain the child.

Booster Seat Law

Booster seats are approved under Iowa law. Nonetheless, this legislation doesn't stipulate what age the child should be when using this type of kids' car seat. When using a booster seat, it's vital to ensure its construction includes a seat, lap, and shoulder belt. In this scenario, one belt doesn't go without the other. Booster seats are required to follow two types under Iowa law. A booster seat can either be backless or be constructed with a headrest.

Backless booster seats can only be used if the car also has a headrest supporting the child's back and head. The child's back needs to be protected by all means if a car crash occurs. That's why parents should consider the headrest size for the child and whether it's capable of offering optimal protection.

In contrast, many booster seats include a headrest in the construction. Different from backless models, parents can use a booster seat if the car doesn't include a proper headrest. Otherwise, the parent might feel that their car's headrest isn't safe enough for the child. In such instances, the full-sized booster seats need headrest protection. If not, serious injuries can occur in the case of a car crash.

Additionally, health organizations strongly advise that all parents ensure their children satisfy specific criteria before placing them in a booster seat. When this child lies back, their back should be against the car's seat while their feet rest on the bottom of the seat. If a child doesn't fit correctly in this booster seat, parents should rather use forward-faced alternatives. Focusing on height and weight parameters are known to be secure indicators detailing if a child is ready for specific restraint systems.

Using the Front Seat

Based on expert recommendations, it's permitted for the child to ride in the passenger seat after they reach the age of 12. However, letting a child fitting this age specification sit in the passenger seat isn't always the most secure option. In most instances, the safest option is always to have children sitting in the back seat for as long as possible, instead of the front seat.

Is It Illegal to Smoke in the Car?

Iowa child endangerment law doesn't forbid persons from smoking in the vehicle while there are child passengers. However, it's strongly recommended to reduce as much secondhand smoke exposure as possible for the sake of child safety. Children are extremely vulnerable to this type of exposure. This is because they don't have control over the situation.

Individuals responsible for this secondhand smoke exposure should ensure their children's environment is safer and healthier by not smoking in the car with any minors present. This is especially important for infants, as they are susceptible to smoke exposure. Such exposure is proven to play a role in sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS).

Seat Belt Law in Iowa

When looking at the seat belt law in Iowa state, it stipulates that those who are 18 years old or older can sit in the front seat with a seat belt. It's vital to provide proper installation for the lap and shoulder belt when using a standard seat belt. This means that the lap belt needs to go over the lap. Not the waist or stomach. The shoulder belt is required to fit over the shoulder area. Not the underarm or neck region.

These same rules apply if a person is installing a booster seat. This individual should ensure that the belt is aligned properly and protecting the right area. Authorities in Iowa are allowed to fine individuals up to $50 if they aren't wearing a seatbelt. This law applies to drivers and passengers. In such instances, these individuals are charged separately.

Nonetheless, these laws can differ in some instances. If the child can't wear a seat belt for some health reasons, the parent or guardian is required to deliver a signed doctor's note explaining this exemption and the type of condition the child is suffering from. Iowa authorities take responsibility for ensuring passengers and drivers remain safe throughout their ride to their destination.

Additionally, these car seat safety laws are there to obey until the Iowa state law is changed and stipulates otherwise. It's in the parental care as the guardian of the child to keep these kids safe during transportation in vehicles. That's why these kids must be secured in a child restraint safety seat system

Does the Seat Belt Law Apply to Taxis?

Under Iowa state law, the taxi service isn't responsible for providing car seats. That's why it's the responsibility of the parent or guardian to offer a suitable child restraint system. Under the law, a parent or guardian needs to deal with charges for negligence. The taxi driver isn't held responsible.

Why Is the Right Car Seat Crucial?

In 2016, it was reported that more than 328 children's lives (under the age of 5) were saved in Iowa by car seats. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) state that:

  • The use of a car seat helps reduce the risk of a child's car accident injury. This reduction is between 71 and 82 percent when compared to using a seat belt alone.

  • The use of a booster seat reduces the risk of a child's (aged four to eight) car accident injury by as much as 45 percent when compared to only using a seat belt.

The correct installation and use of a child restraint system can protect a child from life-long disability, significant pain, and even death when involved in vehicle collisions.

How Should Parents Choose a Car Seat?

A parent is presented with many types of car seats. This can make choosing the appropriate one challenging. Here are the various options available for purchase:

Convertible Car Seats

A convertible car seat can be used either forward-facing or rear-facing. Additionally, this child restraint system includes a five-point harness mechanism.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Forward-facing car seats also implement a five-point child restraint harness system to keep young children aged 1 to 8-years old secure in the car seat. This is a suitable option for toddlers, younger children, and older babies.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

This child restrain car seat is typically made for infants up to 20 pounds. The car seat includes a five-point harness system and helps keep most children up to the age of 12 months secure.

Booster Car Seats

Booster car seats might include a five-point harness mechanism in the construction. Otherwise, the car's normal safety belt might be employed to keep the child secure. This booster car seat is equipped to position the child in a way that allows the seatbelt to fit properly around the child restraint system.

A parent is typically overwhelmed by the number of models available on the market. That's why it's recommended to consider various elements to ensure all child passengers are best protected from being severely hurt or killed in a car collision. These considerations for most car seats include:

  • The manufacturer's recommended weight and height for the car seat

  • Consumer reviews

  • How easy the installation process is

  • How this car seat is going to fit in the respective vehicle

  • How easy it is to move the car seat from one vehicle to the other (if this applies to the specific individual)

What to Do After a Car Crash (with a Car Seat):

What to Do After a Car Crash (with a Car Seat):

In moderate and severe car crashes, car seats can be damaged. This is the case even if the damage isn't visible. That's why the NHTSA recommends replacing a car seat once a car accident has taken place. This is done to protect the child from any damage that might have been sustained to the car seat even if it isn't visible. However, this replacement only needs to take place is the accident:

  • Causes visible damage to the car

  • Results in passenger injuries

  • Causes airbags to deploy

  • Prevents the car from being driven away from the accident site

  • Damages are sustained to the car door closest to the car seat

  • The air bag (or bags) was deployed

If none of the above-mentioned have occurred, then individuals might not be required to replace the car seat. Nonetheless, individuals should replace the car safety seat if any of these instances that have been previously mentioned are true or if there are any concerns regarding the car seat's integrity after a car crash.

Wrapping It Up

Complying with the Iowa car seat laws and Des Moines injury law shouldn't be done to avoid a potential fine for violations. Instead, such legislation is in place to protect the child from death or injury in the event of a car accident.

Iowa car seat safety is in place to prevent many accident injuries and fatalities. If a child is riding in a car and an accident takes place, they should receive prompt medical attention.

Individuals might have more questions about car safety in Iowa. If lost about what steps to take after a child is injured in an accident, Tom Fowler is the right law firm to get in contact with. The Des Moines car accident lawyer at this law firm have the right resources for those seeking information about the Iowa car seat law.

For other questions regarding family law, such as common law marriage, contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.

Get in contact with one of the experts at Tom Fowler Law Firm today!

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