More Iowans are buckling up when they get into a vehicle. Iowa State Patrol Colonel Patrick Hoye says a new statewide survey found 93.1% of motorists were in compliance with the seatbelt law, improving on the 2008 figure of 92.9%. The increase, while only two-tenths of a percent, translates to about 5,000 additional Iowans wearing safety belts.
Hoye, who became the leader of the state patrol in November 2007, has made seatbelt compliance a top priority during his tenure. For instance, state troopers issued 51% more seatbelt citations in June of 2009 compared to those written in June 2008.
"In 2008, Iowa ranked 8th in the nation for seatbelt compliance. The 2009 stats aren’t out yet, but since we did see a climb, we’re confident we’ll at least be in the top ten again this year," Hoye said.
Iowa recorded 411 traffic fatalities in 2008. That’s the third lowest fatality total in the state since World War Two. Hoye believes there’s plenty of room for improvement.
"Although our seatbelt compliance rate is very good and we’re very proud of it, if you look at the fatality rates, way too many people that are involved in the fatalities are the ones that aren’t buckled up," Hoye said.
The seatbelt survey was administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation and involved nearly 100 sites around the state and included more than 11,000 observations of drivers and front seat passengers.