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Motor vehicle fatalities in Iowa hit abnormally high level in January

AMES, Iowa – Feb. 3, 2012 – While January’s unseasonable warm weather was enjoyable, it did little to prevent a significant increase in traffic fatalities. With the forecasted winter storm this weekend, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is asking motorists to exercise additional caution. During the winter months, an unexpected slick spot could be encountered at any time.

After finishing 2011 with the least number of traffic fatalities in 67 years, the Iowa DOT is reporting 41 husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, and sons and daughters lost their lives on the state’s highways in the first month of this year. That compares to 15 in January 2011 and a five-year average (2006-2011) of 27 fatalities for the month of January.

The Iowa DOT urges motorists to – Curb it-Click It. Limit distractions, like texting and driving; and be sure that you and all passengers in your vehicle are wearing their seat belts.

Seat belts are your best protection in a crash. They are designed so that the forces of a crash are absorbed by the strongest areas of the body; the bones of the hips, shoulders and chest. They keep you in place so that you are not ejected from the vehicle; and your head, face and chest are less likely to strike other passengers or the windshield, dashboard or other parts of the vehicle’s interior.

Among the 41 fatalities that occurred in January, 13 people were unbelted. Law enforcement officials were unable to determine whether three individuals were using their seat belts. Law enforcement officers also reported that 19 individuals escaped serious injury or death because they were buckled up at the time of the crash.

The Iowa DOT recommends travelers carefully monitor weather and road conditions throughout the weekend. For road condition information, visit www.511ia.org, call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide)

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