Seatbelt Usage in Iowa
Iowa has had a seatbelt law in place since the mid-80s, July 1986 to be exact. At that same time, it became a primary enforcement state. The definition of this term is a state that allows police officers to stop vehicles where someone is not wearing a seatbelt even if they are not breaking any other traffic laws.
Anyone who is age 18 or older and seated in the front seat must wear a seatbelt. If they do not obey the law, they are subject to a minimum fine of $25 for a first offense. Iowa also has a child safety seat law for those aged one and younger to be placed in a rear-facing seat. Children over the age of one but five or younger may be seated in a front-facing restraint or booster seat. There is no law requiring adults to wear seatbelts in the rear seat.
Iowa is above the national average for seatbelt usage at 92 percent. This compares to the US average of 86 percent. It has hovered around the same rate since 2007 when it was 91.3 percent. It went as high as 93.5 percent in 2011.
These numbers coincide with the traffic fatality rate for the state. In 2015, there were 10.2 fatalities per 100,000 population as compared to the national average of 10.9. This shows the effectiveness of having a strong seatbelt law. In fact, studies show states like Iowa which are a primary enforcement state have a better rate of usage.
While Iowa has strong numbers for seatbelt use, it is part of the Midwest Region, which has the lowest rate at 81.7 percent. This figure compares to the next lowest rate of 88.1 percent for the Northeast. Both regions are far from the West Region at the top with 95.0 percent.