An official from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was in Iowa this week to acknowledge the state’s increase in seatbelt usage. A survey this summer showed 86-percent of Iowans buckled up — an increase from the previous record high of 82-percent. Jim Green of the N-H-T-S-A visited Des Moines as state officials made the announcement. He says an 86-percent rate comes by no easy measure, and ranks Iowa as eighth in the nation. He says Iowa is also eighth in the nation for fewest drunk driver fatalities. Iowa law enforcement officials depend on federal money from Green’s agency for special enforcement operations to find drivers who aren’t buckling up. Green says the tight budget times shouldn’t hurt the future of those programs, although political wrangling does have things up in the air.He says for the first time since 1974 they’re functioning without an appropriation. He says all indications point to the programs continuing for at least the next 18 months. Green says it’s a matter of Congress completing the passage of the transportation funding bill. He says the success of the program in Iowa and other states is good evidence that the program works. He says there’s a 79-percent seatbelt usage rate nationwide, which exceeded the goal of 78-percent. Green says Congress is looking favorably on the program because of those numbers. Green says it’s hard to not support the programs because they save lives.