Vehicle safety equipment
Proper and consistent use of safety belts is the most effective strategy to protect an occupant from crash related injuries. For an adult, the safety belt should fit snugly and be worn low and tight across the hips and not across the stomach. The shoulder belt should come over the collar bone, away from the neck and cross over the breastbone. It should never be worn behind the back because that does not effectively protect the wearer in the event of a crash and may cause serious injuries.
Iowa law requires ALL drivers and other persons riding in the front seats of automobiles, trucks, motor homes, or buses to wear seat belts or harnesses.
Driver and passenger airbags protect front seat occupants in the event of a front end collision. Side or “curtain” airbags offer protection in side impact collisions. A driver should position the seat at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel in order to maintain a safe distance from the airbag and to avoid injury if it deploys. For information “About Your Airbags”, click here or visit IIHS's Web site at http://www.iihs.org. For specific information on minimizing risk and injury for older drivers and passengers with airbags, click here or visit http://www.safercar.gov.
Child safety restraints
Older road users are often grandparents and may find themselves transporting their grand children in their car. Iowa law (Iowa Code 321.446) requires all children under 6 years old to use an approved child restraint device while riding in a motor vehicle. The proper child safety seat depends on the child’s age and height. Only children over age 8 may use the vehicle’s seat belt. Following is information on what restraints Iowa law requires.
Iowa’s Required Restraint by Age Group:
|Child Age||Required Restraint|
|Under 1 year (and weighing less than 20 lbs.)||Must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.|
|1 year to 6 years old||Must be secured in a child restraint system (a safety seat or boosterseat – NOT a seat belt).|
|6 years to 11 years old||Must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt.|
For additional information about the Iowa Child Restraint law, click here or visit http://www.dps.state.ia.us or http://www.iowa.dot.gov/MVD/ods/beltlaw.pdf.
Assistance with Child Safety Restraints
Proper installation of a child safety seat is not as easy as it looks and an improperly installed child safety seat can do more harm than good. Following are Web links that will direct drivers to locations where trained technicians can ensure the child safety seat is installed correctly.
- A child safety seat inspection station can be accessed by clicking here or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/FindFitting.cfm.
- Iowa’s Child Passenger Safety Network provides several resources on child passenger safety issues. For more information, click here or visit http://www.blankchildrens.org/child-passenger-safety.aspx.
- For information on ease of use for particular models, click here or visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/CPS/cssrating/index.cfm.
- Safe Kids Des Moines also has information on child passenger safety fitting stations. For more information, click here or visit the Web site at http://www.dsmsafekids.org.
Head restraints help prevent your head from being snapped in a rear-end collision. It is important that the head restraint protects the middle of your head and not serve as a “resting” spot.
Anti-lock brakes work with a vehicle's normal service brakes to decrease stopping distance and increase the control and stability of the vehicle during hard braking. Unlike the conventional brakes many older drivers may be used to, anti-lock brakes should not be pumped, but rather steady pressure applied.
Position of mirrors
It is important for the driver to always have a good view of the front, side and rear of the vehicle. Vehicles equipped with side view mirrors on both sides of the car assist the driver in making lane changes. However, side mirrors do not eliminate “blind” spots and drivers should look over their shoulder before changing lanes.
Navigation and communication systems, like OnStar or other global positioning systems (GPS) add a level of safety and security to an automobile. To access information about OnStar specific features, click here or visit http://www.onstar.com.
Electronic stability control (ESC) is a computerized technology that improves the safety of a vehicle's handling by detecting and preventing skids. When ESC detects loss of steering control, ESC automatically applies individual brakes to help "steer" the vehicle where the driver wants to go. Braking is automatically applied to individual wheels, such as the outer front wheel to counter over steer, or the inner rear wheel to counter under steer. Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.
Other types of new technology are being developed including potential ways for the vehicle and roadway to interact. IntelliDrive is a research program that would provide a communications link between vehicles and the roadway to increase the safety, efficiency and convenience of the transportation system. IntelliDrive combines leading edge technologies including advanced wireless communications, onboard computer processing, advanced vehicle sensors, GPS navigation, smart infrastructure and others. For an overview of the program, click here or visit http://www.intellidriveusa.org/overview/.
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is an in-vehicle convenience feature designed to maintain a set speed and, when applicable, adjust the set speed to maintain a specified distance from a lead vehicle. To view a copy of a study on "Use of Advanced In-Vehicle Technology by Young and Older Early Adopters: Survey Results on Adaptive Cruise Control Systems" conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, click here or visit the Foundation's Web site at http://www.aaafoundation.org.