Riding in the backseat without a seat belt

Iowa law requires all front-seat passengers to wear seatbelts. In 2018, the law was expanded to require backseat seatbelts for passengers under the age of 18. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, this expansion of Iowa’s seatbelt law can, “… reduce the potential of injury or death by eliminating passengers in becoming human missiles.”

The Danger of Riding in the Backseat Without a Seatbelt

It used to be commonly understood that the backseat was safer than the front seat of cars. Therefore, states failed to enact the same seatbelt laws for backseat passengers as they did for front-seat riders, and many people choose not to wear seatbelts in the rear rows of cars, vans, and light trucks.

Research conducted between 2010 and 2019, however, indicates the risk of serious injury or death is higher for backseat passengers than front-seat riders. Yet, observations, police reports, and passenger surveys indicate that backseat passengers still buckle up less often than front-seat passengers.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 803 unrestrained backseat passengers died in 2018 car crashes, and more than 400 of these lives could’ve been saved if the backseat passenger was wearing a seatbelt. Seatbelts may prevent approximately 44% of car accident fatalities in the backseats of passenger cars and 73% of accident deaths in the backseats of vans and light trucks.

Who Wears Backseat Seatbelts and Who Doesn’t?

According to the GHSA:

  • Women are more likely than men to wear seatbelts
  • People who typically wear seatbelts in the front seat are more likely to do so in the backseat
  • Children and the elderly are more likely to wear backseat seatbelts than young adults and middle-aged adults

The most common reasons for not wearing a seatbelt included:

  • Only taking a short trip
  • Riding in the backseat of an Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare vehicle
  • The seatbelt was uncomfortable
  • The passenger forgot
  • The state law didn’t require it
  • There wasn’t enough room in the backseat to put on a seatbelt
  • The other passengers weren’t doing it

None of these reasons are worth getting hurt or killed in a car crash.

How Iowa Backseat Seatbelt Law Compares to Wisconsin and Illinois Laws

Iowa does not currently have a backseat seatbelt law for people over the age of 18. However, the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Illinois both have primary enforcement backseat seatbelt laws. That means that the police can stop drivers in Wisconsin and Illinois for no other reason than backseat passengers failing to wear seatbelts. Iowa police cannot stop nor require backseat passengers to wear seatbelts.

Backseat Passengers Deserve Fair Recoveries 

The Iowa backseat seatbelt law may only apply to minors who are no longer in car seats, but adults are also at risk of being seriously hurt or killed in a crash. While a seatbelt may have prevented your accident injury or your loved one’s death, the lack of a seatbelt did not cause the accident, injury, or fatality.

You may still be able to make a fair recovery for all of the losses, pain, and suffering you experienced because of a driver’s negligence. Your recovery could include compensation for your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages.

Take the first step in your recovery today by contacting our Iowa car accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. We encourage you to be candid with us and to tell us everything that you can about the accident and your recovery, even if you think you could be hurting your own case. It is better that we know upfront, that we anticipate the defense’s arguments, and that we have all of the information that we need to protect your rights.

Call us today or fill out our online contact form to have us contact you to schedule your meeting, to learn more about the car accident lawsuit process, and to find out about our Win or It’s Free Guarantee!

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.