Iowa Car Seat Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Iowa Car Seat Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Imagine getting into a car accident with your child in the back seat. 

Without proper restraints, your child is very likely to tumble around, or worse, thrown away. 

With proper restraints, they are kept in place, and safe from any injuries or broken bones. 

Which scenario do you prefer?

I’m sure any parent will pick the latter.

Well, this is why car seats are VERY important. 

And this is why the State of Iowa made sure to implement car seat laws. 

Today, we’ll be looking at these Iowa car seat laws, so you can keep your child safe while in a vehicle. We’ll also look at the penalties for breaking these car seat laws. 

On top of that, we’ll include Iowa’s seatbelt laws and penalties. This way, you can make sure your child, your passengers, and YOU are safe. 

So let’s dive right in! 

Car Seat Laws in Iowa

Since 1966, manufacturers have been producing passenger cars and pick-up trucks with seatbelts. Unfortunately, when you have children, these aren’t the safest thing to use until a certain age.

With that in mind, Iowa came up with these car seat laws. 

Seat Type:Rear-facingForward-facingBooster Seat
Ages:Infants(birth to 12 months)Toddlers or Preschoolers(1 to 6 years old)7 years old and older
Weight Limit:Up to 20 to 22 poundsUp to 40 poundsAround 40 to 80 pounds and stands at 4’9”
Position:Rear-facing onlyForward-facingForward-facing
Points to Remember:Ensure that you secure the harness straps at or below the infant’s shoulder

The car seat cannot be placed in the front passenger seat, where there are airbags
Ensure that the harness straps are at the child’s shoulders or above it

Remember that children under 12 are safest when they ride in the back seat
Ensure that you use both the shoulder and lap belts 

Make sure the lap belt fits and is low enough to prevent injuries to the abdomen

Remember, though, that these are ideal age, height, and weight requirements. It’s always best to check the car seat — the manufacturer will indicate the upper weight and height limits for each.

Now, once your child outgrows a booster seat, you’ll have to decide whether a seatbelt will suffice. Iowa doesn’t clearly state when children can begin using seatbelts, but it typically happens when they turn 12 or 13.

Car Seat Penalties in Iowa

The car seat law in Iowa has primary enforcement, which means police officers can pull you over if they spot a child not secured in a car seat.

Although this is a non-moving violation, it’s still considered a misdemeanor. The fine will be $100, PLUS you may have to pay more because of the surcharges and court costs.

But the harshest penalty is if something happens to your child because they were not using a car seat. So never think to yourself that the penalties are not too bad. 

Seatbelt Law in Iowa

Since we’re talking about safety restraints, it’s important to mention the seatbelt law for adults, too.

Iowa’s seatbelt law requires anyone who sits in the front passenger seat to properly buckle up in a moving vehicle.

Those 18 and older don’t need to wear seatbelts if they’re sitting at the back. However, it’s still recommended to wear one for safety. 

If you’re younger than 18 and have outgrown a booster seat, you must wear a seatbelt at all times, whether you’re sitting in front or at the back.

Remember, seatbelt laws apply to everyone driving in Iowa — even if you’re only here for an extended vacation with a temporary license, you must abide by it.

Seatbelt Penalties in Iowa

Like car seat laws in Iowa, the seatbelt law has primary enforcement. If a police officer finds you violating this law, you’ll have to pay a fine of $50.

If you’re driving with a minor and you’re both unrestrained, you’ll have to shoulder all penalties. However, you can settle your fines individually if your passengers are adults.

Seatbelt Exemptions in Iowa

There are rare instances where you don’t need to wear a seatbelt. Here are 8 exemptions to the Iowa seatbelt law: 

  • You are riding in a school bus
  • Your passenger is younger than 6 years old and is using an approved car seat.
  • Your vehicle is a motorcycle or a motorized bike.
  • You only drive your vehicle up to 25mph and use it for work that requires you to get in and out frequently.
  • You work as a rural mail carrier and are delivering items between your first and last destination.
  • You have a valid medical condition that prevents you from wearing a seatbelt or safety harness. You must present a certificate issued within the last 12 months confirming these health reasons.
  • A disabled person using a collapsible wheelchair utilizes your front passenger seat.
  • You are transporting a passenger using an authorized emergency vehicle during an emergency.

Debunking Seatbelt Myths

Although Iowa’s seatbelt usage rate is higher than the national average, some people still don’t use them. Unfortunately, misinformation is a contributing factor to this. 

Well, we’re here to debunk all those myths.

Myth #1: Seatbelts are uncomfortable and restrictive

Using a seatbelt may feel unnatural at first, but there are ways to adjust it to make it fit your frame better. Properly wearing your seat belt should allow you to have a complete range of motion without feeling the pressure.

Be more careful when it comes to children. If they’re too small to wear a seatbelt, you may need to use a booster seat to make it fit properly.

Myth #2: Seatbelts can trap you inside your vehicle

Some people believe that if your car plunges into a body of water after an accident, you won’t be able to get out if you’re wearing your seatbelt. 

The chances of this happening are slim, but if it does, wearing a seatbelt actually puts you in a better position to escape.

It’ll keep you from getting knocked out during the impact — and you’re more likely to get out of the vehicle if you remain conscious. Also, it only takes you seconds to undo your seatbelt.

Myth #3: You don’t need to wear a seatbelt if your destination’s nearby

You never know when you’ll get involved in an accident. It doesn’t mean nothing will happen if you’re just driving around the block.

In fact, most accidents happen close to home and involve vehicles that aren’t speeding. So wear your seatbelt no matter how near or far your destination is. It’s always the safer option.

Myth #4: It’s possible to walk away without a scratch even if you’re thrown clear from the vehicle in an accident

Your chances of surviving an accident are higher if you remain inside the car. The impact of an accident may throw you out of your vehicle. Well, seatbelts prevent this from happening. 

Myth #5: Wearing a seatbelt takes too much time

As we said, it only takes seconds to undo your seatbelt, and the same goes for securing it. Making it a habit also helps because putting it on becomes muscle memory.

Even if you’re in a hurry, you can take just 1 second to buckle up.

Myth #6: I can brace myself in a collision if the car isn’t traveling fast

Even if your vehicle’s only running at 25mph, a collision will feel like hitting a wall at full speed. It’s unrealistic to think you can brace yourself against that much impact.

Myth #7: I have airbags, so seatbelts aren’t necessary

Airbags are not an appropriate replacement for seatbelts. They prevent you from hitting the steering wheel but won’t keep you from being thrown off your seat.

Manufacturers designed airbags to be more effective if you’re wearing restraints, so it’s best to use them together.

The Wrap Up

Sure, we must abide by the Iowa car seat laws and seatbelt laws to avoid the penalties. More importantly, though, we should obey them to keep safe. 

So if you have a child, make sure to give them the appropriate car seat. As for you, make sure to always wear your seatbelt. 

We tell you, these restraints can save lives!

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