Teenagers would have to buckle-up in the back seat if a bill that cleared the Senate Transportation Committee becomes law. 

Under current state law, all front seat passengers must wear a seatbelt and anyone under the age of ten must wear a seatbelt whether they’re in the front or back of the vehicle.  Senator Daryl Beall, a Democrat from Fort Dodge, says accident data shows kids over the age of 11 and most teenagers under the age of 18 are not wearing seat belts.

“Sixty-eight percent were unbelted compared to 32 percent who were belted,” Beall says, “(with) two times as much chance of going to the hospital and requiring hospitalization and subsequent care.”

Senator Bill Heckroth, a Democrat from Waverly, says the move may save lives and prevent catastrophic injuries among backseat passengers.

“Many times it’s head injuries, brain injuries because they hit the top of the car or the windows in front so they may not be a casualty from that stand point but they certainly have their lives changed,” Heckroth says.  “I think when it comes to protecting the young people and protecting ourselves, actually, this is a bill that is probably long overdue.”

But what if your car doesn’t have enough seat belts for all the kids?  Beall has an answer. “There is a waiver that if you have four children in the back seat and only three seat belts, I guess mom and dad have to choose which children they love the most,” Beall says.  “….There won’t be a ticket issued for not having all four (children buckled up).” 

The measure now goes to the full senate for debate.  

Motorists caught violating the existing state law on seat belt usage are fined $25 and Beall’s bill would extend that fine to those who don’t have all the kids and teens in the car buckled up.