Passengers under 18 would have to be buckled up, even in the back seat of a vehicle, under legislation which has cleared a House committee. But the panel voted to grant large families an exemption. Under the bill which cleared the House Transportation Committee, parents would have to ensure all the seat belts in the vehicle had been used, but if they have more kids than seat belts, the older kids could ride without buckling up.
Representative Dennis Cohoon, a Democrat from Burlington, admits that’s a departure from a Senate-passed bill which would require seat belts for minors, period. "It was almost a three-way split between saying keep current law and not do any legislation this year, go ahead and agree with the Senate…or to go ahead and have the exemption," Cohoon says. "…It really kind of came together in the past couple of days."
Public safety advocates, health professionals, and some insurers have been lobbying hard for an expansion of Iowa’s mandatory seatbelt law.
Representative Dan Huseman, a Republican from Aurelia, had his doubts, but voted in favor of requiring all minors to buckle up, even if they’re sitting in the back seat. "A couple of weeks ago in my hometown we had a carload of kids, the two girls in the backseat of the car were not strapped in. The driver rolled the car in the ditch and both of them got ejected," Huseman says. "Fortunately, they didn’t get hurt."
Huseman and Cohoon say they’ve been flooded with email, urging them to pass the bill. The full House must endorse the proposal, then it must pass the Senate, too, before it could be sent to the governor for his consideration.