• Tom Fowler

Iowa Seat Belt Laws

Adults sitting in the back seat are now the only passengers in Iowa who are not obliged to wear a seatbelt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear seat belts are 60% effective in decreasing fatalities in motor vehicle accidents, yet only approximately half of the individuals in Iowa questioned indicate they always wear seat belts when traveling in the back seat. A policy analysis was undertaken by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, in collaboration with the UI Injury Prevention Research Center, the Iowa Social Science Research Center, and the National Advanced Driving Simulator, to assess the impact of and support for enacting such a law.


Seat belt rules are currently enforced in 28 states and the District of Columbia.


What Is Required by the Iowa Seat Belt Law


What Is Required by the Iowa Seat Belt Law


Seat belts are required in all motor vehicles, except motorcycles and powered bikes, that are registered in Iowa and have a model year of 1966 or later. When driving an automobile in Iowa, you must comply with the following requirements:


  • When the car is moving forward, all front-seat occupants must buckle up.

  • Unless a youngster is riding on a school bus, anyone under the age of 18 who is no longer in an Iowa car seat must wear a seat belt in the front or back of the vehicle.

  • Drivers must also ensure that children are restrained properly, as stipulated by Iowa's car seat laws.


Fines Issued


  • The fine is the driver's responsibility.

  • A fine for a misdemeanor is $100, plus fees (nonmoving violation).

  • Both Iowa residents and non-residents are subject to the statute.

  • The child must be correctly secured in the child restraint, as well as the child restraint to the vehicle.

  • Failure to employ a child restraint is likely a reason for a vehicle to be stopped.

  • An officer may look into a possible violation.


The Backseat Exception


Seat belt laws exist in at least 28 states and Washington, D.C., requiring all passengers, including those in the backseat, to buckle up. However, Iowa's law exempts passengers aged 18 and up from wearing seat belts in the backseat.


According to a University of Iowa research, 85% of front-seat occupants always wear a seat belt, whereas only 36% of rear seat occupants use a seat belt. Many people say they don't use a seat belt in the rear seat since it isn't required by law in Iowa, according to the research.


Despite the findings of seat belt use, the majority of respondents firmly favor an Iowa law that would compel adult passengers in the rear seat to wear a seatbelt.


Previously, the backseat was considered to be substantially safer than the front seat. However, with current technological developments like airbags, the disparity isn't as severe as it once was. As a result, rear seat occupants should reconsider buckling up to avoid being thrown out from a vehicle, ejected from a vehicle, and critically injured in a car accident.


When belt use was recorded for adults who died in a motor vehicle crash between 2006 and 2012,


  • 53 % of the drivers were wearing one

  • 60 % of passengers in the front seats

  • Only 17% of individuals seated in the back seat wore one


Other Iowa Seat Belt Law Exceptions


The fact that you don't have to wear a seat belt in the back seat isn't the sole exemption to Iowa's seat belt rule. There are also exceptions in Iowa's law for drivers and passengers who:


  • As long as the car does not exceed 25 mph, so they can frequently get in and out of the car for work.

  • Are you a rural letter carrier for the US Postal Service? (the exception applies between their first deliveries and last deliveries only)

  • Have a written confirmation from a competent health professional that explains why the person cannot safely use a seat belt due to physical or health reasons. This certification must be valid for a set period. The first certification period is limited to 12 months. Any future certificates could be for a longer period of time or a lifetime exemption.

  • Other than the driver, front-seat passengers in approved emergency vehicles that are being used in an emergency are exempted.


Car Seat Law In Iowa


In Iowa, children under the age of one must be strapped in a rear-facing car seat if they weigh less than 20 pounds. The child's seat must meet all of the requirements and be suitable for his or her age and weight.


School buses and motorcyclists are not considered motor vehicles that must follow the rear-facing restraint system under Iowa law.


A Citation May be Issued to the Driver If a Child Passenger Is:


  • A child under the age of three who is not in a child restraint system or who is not wearing a seat belt

  • If a child is six years old or older and he or she is sitting in the front seat without a seatbelt, they're in danger.


Rear-Facing Car Seat


As previously indicated, children aged 0 to one who weigh less than 20 pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing device. Infants between the ages of zero and two should be transported in a rear-facing seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.


If you must use a rear-facing seat, ensure that it complies with all the federal requirements. This means it's correctly fitted and has a five-point harness that safely restrains the child.


Booster Seat Law


Booster seats are permitted under Iowa law. It does not, however, specify at what age a child should be using this type of seat. If you're looking for a seat or booster, be sure it has both lap and seat belts. In this circumstance, one belt does not work without the other. Booster seats come in two styles: backless or with a headrest.


Only use a backless booster seat if your vehicle already has a headrest that supports the child's head and back. If a car accident occurs, the spines of the children must be protected at all costs, which is why you should first assess the headrest size and if it provides adequate protection.


Boosters with headrests, on the other hand, are available. Unlike backless variants, these can be used if your car lacks a proper backrest or if you believe the headrest is not secure enough for your child. They must be seated in full-size seats with headrest supports. Severe injury may result if this is not done.


Furthermore, health agencies advised that children should meet certain criteria before being placed into a booster seat. When they lie down, their backs must rest on the car's seat, and their feet must rest on the floor. You should stick to forward-facing ones for a while if they don't fit well in the booster seat.


The child's weight and height can frequently be a reliable indicator of whether or not he or she is ready for various restraining devices.



Common Safety Belt Misuses for Children:


  • Lap belt up on the abdomen

  • Lap belt loose, shoulder belt loose

  • Shoulder belt behind their back

  • Shoulder belt under their arm


Is Smoking in the Car Illegal?


Smoking in a vehicle with children is not prohibited by Iowa law. However, wherever possible, it is strongly advised to limit secondhand smoke contact.


Because they have no control over the circumstance, children are exposed to this type of exposure. You have the power to make your children's surroundings better and healthier as the person who is responsible for their well-being. Smoke exposure is dangerous to infants because it has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Can You Leave a Child Alone in the Car in Iowa?


Can You Leave a Child Alone in the Car in Iowa?


As you can see, Iowa does not have a statute on the subject.


They do, however, have a child endangerment statute that may apply to the case at hand. "Denial of ethical care" states that the lack of the person in charge of the child care must give adequate shelter, food, clothing, or any other form of necessities.


How Failure to Wear a Seat Belt Impacts a Car Accident Recovery


Seat belts are ineffective in preventing car accidents. Failure to use a seat belt, on the other hand, may impede your recovery in the event of a collision. Failure to wear a seat belt is not evidence of comparative fault, but it can be used to minimize damages if the party presenting the evidence can show that the failure to wear a seat belt led to the person's injuries. If a judge or jury finds strong proof that a person's injuries were caused in part by their refusal to wear a seat belt, that person's damages may be reduced by up to 25%.


Don't allow an insurance company or another driver to persuade you not to file a Des Moines injury lawsuit because you didn't buckle up. Instead, understand the truth about your rights and take steps to preserve your recovery by contacting one of our skilled car accident law firm, Tom Fowler Law for a free and confidential consultation.


For more laws and regulations regarding automobiles, such as window tint laws, talk to a specialized attorney in Iowa.

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