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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 2, 2006

Seat Belts For Teens Makes Sense: I-CASH

Requiring all Iowa teenagers to wear seat belts when traveling in the rear seat of a vehicle makes sense, according to specialists at Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH).

Current Iowa law requires that children must ride in a rear-facing child safety seat through age 1; in an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat through age 5; and in a booster seat or seat belt through age 10. The current law does not require children over age 10 riding in the rear seat to wear a seat belt.

"As an organization dedicated to enhancing the health and safety of Iowa's agricultural community, we encourage discussion of this important safety issue," said Kelley Donham, director of I-CASH. "Farmers who advise I-CASH rate rural roadway safety as one of their top safety concerns."

Iowa's many secondary roads - gravel roads and two-lane county highways - present a number of safety hazards, noted Jan Goldsmith, a highway safety specialist and crash investigator, and a member of I-CASH's advisory council.

"Typically, there is more speed involved on secondary roads than on city streets," Goldsmith said. "And unlike the interstate highways, the speed on secondary roads is less controlled, and drivers do not have wide shoulders or a median to attempt to avert head-on collisions."

Rural gravel roads can be especially dangerous, Goldsmith added. Gravel road surfaces are more difficult to manage than paved highways, especially at higher speeds. Drivers will encounter more tractors, combines and other farm equipment on gravel roads. Gravel roads also contain numerous uncontrolled intersections, which raises the risk for accidents, she noted.

"Inexperienced young drivers and their passengers -- especially in Iowa's smaller communities and rural areas -- are traveling on these roads daily," Goldsmith said. "From my experience, the safest place to be in an accident is inside the car -- there's no soft place to land outside. The best way to do this is to have every passenger buckled up."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,