In one week, two teenagers from Eastern Iowa died in separate car crashes. Both were ejected from the backseat. Neither were wearing seatbelts. Connie Hauskins of Safe Kids Iowa hopes the tragedies turn into something good. "I hope it really does raise awareness. We have lost a lot of children here locally," says Hauskins.
Lieutenant Randy Jones of the Iowa State Patrol says the numbers tell the story. Jones says, "You are 50 times more likely to be injured or killed in an automobile accident not wearing a seatbelt." But not everyone in Iowa has to buckle up. Only the driver, the front-seat passenger, and children under the age of 11 riding in the backseat must wear a seatbelt.
Local lawmakers, like Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, say these recent fatal car crashes are a wake-up call. Foege says, "I don’t have any doubt with what happened in the accidents with the Eastern Iowan people, no doubt that we’ll be taking it up."
Last session, the Senate Transportation Committee pushed a bill through the Senate, trying to beef up Iowa’s seat belt law. The measure, which would have bumped the age requirement up to 18, died in the House. Child safety advocates hope next time around lawmakers remember these situations and make changes.