Iowa is one of three states that’ll take part in a year-round program of special enforcement operations designed to get drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. Colonel Robert Garrison of the Iowa Highway Patrol says the kickoff of the Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) also coincides with National Child Passenger Safety Week. He says they want raise the state’s awareness of the use of child booster seat and adult seat belt use.
Garrison says there were over 400 traffic fatalities in Iowa last year and they want to reduce that number. Garrison says they’ll have more officers checking on drivers at key times. Garrison says the STEP program makes federal money available to pay for trooper overtime, and he says they’ll be working with city and county officers to target people who’re not wearing seatbelts . Garrison says the deaths among young people are a particular concern.
Garrison says the preliminary report shows 32 traffic deaths for kids under 11, so he says they have some work to do to prevent the deaths of younger Iowans in cars. The state seatbelt usage rate is 90-percent, and Garrison says this program may be what’s needed to increase the usage.
Garrison says the last 10-percent of the people that’re not buckling up are probably those that "need maybe a very strong reminder in the form of a traffic citation." Garrison says the ticket could cost them 83-dollars if they aren’t buckled up or don’t have their kids in a carseat.
For referral to a child passenger safety technician in your area call Safe Kids at 1-800-258-6419 or the Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Emergency Medial Services at 1-800-728-3367.