Iowa now has the second highest seatbelt compliance rate in the Midwest and the eleventh highest nationally. The governor?s traffic safety bureau reported Wednesday that 90-percent of Iowans comply with the state?s seatbelt law. Public safety commissioner Kevin Techau says that?s a fifteen percent increase since 1997.

Techau says that signifies about 400-thousand motorists buckled up, and a likely savings of 2,000 lives. He calls it a significant step that law enforcement and public-safety professionals have all been working hard to achieve. Techau says after the governor set that 90-percent rate as a goal, they reached it by stepping up both enforcement and education. Law enforcement will pull over a motorist if they’re not buckled up, but he says they’re also out there to work with educators and public-health officials to alert people what the benefit is to buckling up. Now the bar’s being set even higher.

“We know that there’s more lives to save and more injuries to prevent, and so our next benchmark will be 95-percent — which we’re confident that we can achieve.” Techau says they estimate 2,000 lives have been saved since 1997, back when Iowa’s seatbelt compliance rate was only 75-percent. The new 95-percent compliance rate is a target they hope to reach by 2008.