Kids and Cars

Des Moines Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for a Safer Iowa

Kids and Cars Keeping Our Kids Safe — Kids must be properly restrained in the correct restraint system for their age and size every time they travel in a vehicle. While some progress has been achieved in recent years in preventing child occupant deaths and injuries by increasing the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and safety belts, more work needs to be done to protect child occupants who remain at an increased risk.

Keeping Our Kids Safe In Cars

Iowa's child passenger safety law provides:

  • A child under 1-year old and weighing less than 20 lbs. must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system

  • A child age 1 up to 6 years old must be secured in a child restraint system (a safety seat or booster seat — NOT a seat belt)

  • A child from age 6 up to age 11 must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt

  • Rear seat occupants up to age 18 must be secured by a safety belt

Please consult these resources to make sure that your kids are traveling safe with you:

From SaferCar.gov:

Birth-12 Months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1-3 Years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4-7 Years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8-12 Years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there.

Choosing a Child Safety Seat — The best child safety seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use and fits in your vehicle correctly. The best way to ensure a proper fit in your vehicle is to try installing the child seat before purchasing.

  • Consult NHTSA's Child Seat Ease of Use Ratings for government ratings of child seat models for assembly, labeling, instructions, installation and securing your child. Note: A NHTSA ease of use rating is not a safety performance rating.

  • Also visit Consumer Reports, a subscription site that allows search of independent crash and safety ratings of child safety seats. Well worth the low one-year subscription price.

Make Sure Your Child Safety Seat Is Properly Installed and Fits Correctly!

The Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau identified these common child safety seat misuses:

  • Seat installed too loose

  • Improper seating position (in front of an air bag)

  • Not buckling child into restraint

  • Not securely anchoring the child restraint to the vehicle

  • Improper seat for child's age and size

  • Infant riding forward facing

  • Harness retainer clip not at armpit level

  • Loose harness straps

Have your seat inspected FREE. To find a FREE inspection station near you, go here. Or find a permanent inspection station throughout the state of Iowa.

For a safety seat checklist, go here.