University of Iowa News Release
Jan. 8, 2004
Iowa Child Passenger Restraint Usage At All-Time High
The percentage of Iowa children who are properly buckled in while riding in motor vehicles is at an all-time high, according to a statewide survey conducted by the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (UI IPRC) (Click here to jump to the chart below).
The overall percentage of Iowa children under age six who are appropriately restrained while riding in a motor vehicle climbed to 84.1 percent in the 2003 Child Restraint Survey. This is the highest level recorded since these annual surveys began in 1988. Surveyors observed motor vehicles carrying 5,772 children under age six, of which 4,854 were judged to be appropriately restrained.
John Lundell, deputy director of the UI IPRC, emphasized the importance
of properly restraining children in motor vehicles.
From May through August of 2003, UI IPRC-trained surveyors observed vehicles at 37 different locations around the state, including urban, rural and highway sites. The Child Restraint Survey is designed to measure compliance with Iowa child occupant protection law. Current Iowa law requires that children under age three ride in a child safety seat. Children between ages three and six must be in either a safety seat or buckled in with a seat belt.
Efforts are currently underway by the Iowa SAFE KIDS Coalition to strengthen
Iowa's law by raising the age of children who must be restrained and requiring
the use of booster seats for young children too small for seatbelts. Kathy
Leggett, coordinator of the Iowa SAFE KIDS Coalition, considers the Child
Restraint Survey results as evidence that the vast majority of Iowans will
comply with the state's child occupant protection law.
As in previous years, the UI IPRC survey found that children riding in motor vehicles in rural areas of Iowa were safely secured in the vehicle less often than those in more populated areas.
In communities with fewer than 2,500 residents, 71 percent of the children were appropriately restrained. By comparison, Iowa's largest communities (more than 50,000 residents) averaged 85 percent. Communities with the lowest rates of child restraint use were Jefferson (54.2 percent) and Sigourney (59.0 percent). The highest rates were recorded in West Des Moines (97.9 percent) and Des Moines (95.0 percent).
IPRC researchers are concerned that parents may mistakenly believe rural roads are safer to travel than urban streets. "Although traffic crashes are more common in urban areas," Lundell noted, "death or serious injuries are more likely to result from rural crashes, where driving speeds are often higher and emergency treatment resources can be farther away."
On the positive side, surveyors in 2003 observed 87.1 percent of children under age six riding in back seats, which is the safest location for children of all ages to ride. That percentage has increased significantly over the years; in 1993 only 52.3 percent of Iowa children were observed in rear seats.
The Child Restraint Survey is supported by the Governor's Traffic Safety
Bureau, with funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dan McMillan, 319-335-6835, firstname.lastname@example.org