Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed a bill this morning that makes the first changes in the seatbelt law for kids in nearly two decades. Vilsack signed the bill as several law officers watched on the steps in front of the Des Moines Police Department. Vilsack says the new law will dramatically increase the safety of children.He says the last change was 18 years ago, and he says it’s pretty clear that technology has changed dramatically and we’ve not taken full advantage of that. Kathy Leggett of the Iowa Safe Kids Coalition helped lead the push for the changes. She says the new law requires kids to be in a rear-facing childseat until they’re 20 pounds. After that kids will be required to be in a booster seat or car seat until they hit 40 pounds. Older kids will be required to be in a booster seat or seatbelt until the age of ten. The old law did not require children to wear seatbelts in the back seat, and even when they did, Leggett says they weren’t totally safe. She says they in no way, shape or form fit well in the seatbelts, as she says kids usually scoot forward and the shoulder belt goes behind them. She says there’s even cases of kids being ejected as the seatbelts don’t hold them in. The new rules for children go into effect July 1st — but the governor says police won’t immediately start writing tickets.He says there’ll be an education process for 18 months, but he says the state will be very serious about enforcing the law. Leggett says several counties are working on programs to help parents afford new car seats and booster seats to comply with the law.
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