DES MOINES – Law enforcement will conduct a traffic safety project in 5 rural Iowa counties.
In 2021,72% of fatal crashes in Iowa occurred on secondary rural roads. Approximately 79% of Iowa’s total roadways are considered secondary in nature. Due to these alarming statistics rural safety has become a major concern.
Beginning December 1, 2022, a new initiative identified as “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project” will be launched to focus on traffic safety on Iowa’s rural roadways. After reviewing 5 years of crash data and looking at counties with low seat belt compliance rates, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau along with a multi-disciplinary team of traffic safety professionals selected five rural counties to participate in this project.
The counties participating in the project include Appanoose, Fremont, Humboldt, Keokuk and Mitchell. The High Five project will involve a three-tier approach to include enforcement, engineering, and education with the ultimate goal to build a safer community. Through enforcement, media, and community outreach, participating agencies will work to educate drivers on the benefits of complying with traffic laws with an emphasis on Iowa’s seat belt law. From an engineering aspect, the focus will be to identify low cost safety improvements throughout the county.
In the first nine months on Iowa roadways there have been 255 fatalities. Each and every life lost is a tragedy. In addition to fatalities, it is also important to recognize the number of serious injuries sustained in traffic crashes. Law enforcement and county engineers within the High Five counties are conscientious safety advocates who understand rural roads are unique because they are shared by a variety of vehicle types from passenger vehicles to large machinery and other farm implements traveling at slower speeds. The road surface types and speeds also vary.
Enforcement efforts on roadways with higher volumes are common but with Iowa’s percentage of rural fatalities above the national average the need to have a special program focusing coordinated efforts on rural safety has become apparent.
The High Five project will begin December 1, 2022 and will conclude on September 30, 2023.