University of Iowa News Release
June 13, 2006
UI Survey: Infants Properly Restrained In Vehicles, But Older Kids At Risk
Iowa infants are almost always restrained properly in automobiles, but far too many toddlers and youth are at risk because they are not riding in booster seats, according to a statewide survey conducted by the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC).
Survey data indicate that children are less likely to be properly restrained in vehicles as age increases. Most children age one year or younger (98.5 percent) were observed to be properly restrained in a child safety seat. A majority of the toddlers ages 2-5 (84 percent) were restrained by some means. Among youth ages 6-10, 25 percent were completely unrestrained in the vehicle.
Particularly alarming, according to UI researchers, was the fact that 23 percent of the toddlers (ages 2-5) were restrained using only a seatbelt. This is not only unsafe but a violation of Iowa's child passenger safety law which requires children under age 6 to be secured using a child safety seat or booster seat, said John Lundell, deputy director of the IPRC. A recent study found that children ages 2-6 who were restrained using a child safety seat or booster seat were far less likely to be killed in car crashes than those restrained by only a seat belt.
To conduct the child passenger safety survey, trained surveyors observed over 3,000 children between October and December 2005 in 36 Iowa communities ranging in size from 1,300 to 200,000. (For a complete list of communities and local survey results, see accompanying table.)
"It is very encouraging that over 98 percent of the infants in Iowa are being properly restrained," said Lundell, who directed the study. "However, we clearly need to increase our efforts to educate parents on the importance of using child safety seats or booster seats for toddlers and young children."
In 2004, the Iowa Legislature revised the child passenger safety law to require that children must ride in an appropriate rear-facing child safety seat until one year of age and at least 20 pounds. Children between the ages of 1 and 5 must ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat, and in a booster seat and/or seat belt until age 10.
The annual survey, funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, is conducted to measure compliance with the Iowa child passenger restraint law and to direct educational efforts.
"The need to educate members of the public on appropriate and safe travel for Iowa's children is an ongoing process," said Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Kevin W. Techau. "We have many partners in this effort from law enforcement throughout the state, including the State Patrol, to nationally certified child passenger safety technicians receiving training from the Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, to child advocacy organizations such as SAFE Kids."
More information on proper seating, car seat inspections, locations of CPS technicians in Iowa, state child passenger safety law, or training is available online at www.iowagtsb.org, www.jointheclick.org, and www.blankchildrens.org/cps. Individuals may also call the Safe Kids Iowa toll free at 800-258-6419.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242.