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Iowa State Patrol and Iowa DOT lead statewide St. Patrick’s Day enforcement to reduce traffic fatalities


This news story was published on March 16, 2021.
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If you see one of these – or even if you don’t – SLOW DOWN

DES MOINES – If you are heading out to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year, make sure to have more than just the luck o’ the Irish on your side. The March 17 holiday is the first of four traffic enforcement waves identified around the most unlucky and deadly times of the year on Iowa’s roadways. It also represents the kick-off to a comprehensive year-long campaign to support traffic fatality reduction.

The Iowa departments of Public Safety and Transportation, along with members of the Iowa Police Chief’s Association, Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Iowa State University, and AAA of Iowa/Minnesota, have teamed up to form the Iowa Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force to focus on enforcement, engineering, and education to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.

In addition to enforcement, the goal of the task force is to educate and empower drivers to change dangerous driving behaviors, as well as create new programs, policies and processes to create a safer traffic system that can impact everyone on the road. The campaign, “Drive Safe Iowa: The Power Is In Your Hands,” also introduces a communications effort that reinforces messages about the common risk factors that drivers face on the road.

“The eventual goal for fatalities is ZERO, but the incremental goal for 2021 is 300, down from 338 in 2020,” said Task Force Chair and Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau Chief, Patrick Hoye. “If achieved, this will be the first time Iowa traffic fatalities are under 300 lives since 1925.”

Hoye says that in reviewing traffic data over the past 10 years, task force members were able to identify four time periods when Iowa sees significant numbers of traffic fatalities. The dates and driving behaviors providing the framework for enforcement efforts include:

ENFORCEMENT WAVES:

• March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) – Focusing on seatbelt and impaired driving.
• June 9-12 (Father’s Day) Focusing on impaired driving.
• September 16 – Focusing on excessive speeding.
• October 2-4 – Focusing on distracted driving.

Added Iowa State Patrol Colonel Nathan Fulk, “The Iowa State Patrol is in full support of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau’s efforts to reduce traffic fatalities in 2021. We feel that teamwork and collaboration with our local, county and state law enforcement partners is vital to the success of this initiative. We are asking drivers to slow down, buckle up and put the phone down. Drive safe Iowa, the power is in your hands.”

As the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s traffic safety division, the Iowa State Patrol, with the Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Division, will be leading the statewide efforts in conducting this Wednesday’s special enforcement initiative geared toward seat belt compliance and the reduction of impaired drivers on the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY CAN BE UNLUCKY

• In Iowa, March 17 is typically one of the biggest drinking nights of the year and, unfortunately, means more impaired drivers on the roads.

• In 2019 in Iowa, there were two crashes over the holiday which killed four people. Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of vehicle related fatalities in Iowa and in the United States.

• Nationally, in 2018 alone, 73 people (39 percent of all crash fatalities) were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period and 33 percent of the pedestrians aged 16 and older killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit.

ABOUT THE IOWA TRAFFIC FATALITY TASK FORCE
Iowa’s multi-discipline Traffic Fatality Task Force was created in 2021 to implement educational, enforcement and legislative initiatives to help Iowa achieve the target of less than 300 traffic fatalities annually, with the ultimate goal of zero fatalities. Enforcement is one key element to reduce fatalities. The task force is led by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa State Patrol.

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