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 on Iowa’s roadways.
The Iowa departments of Transportation and Public Safety, 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 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 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 messaging around the most 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 Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau Chief Patrick Hoye. “If achieved, this will be the first time Iowa traffic fatalities were under 300 lives since 1925.”
Hoye adds 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:
- 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.
“The Iowa Department of Transportation is proud to partner with other agencies to do all we can to reduce traffic fatalities on Iowa roads. When we all work together, we can do great things. That includes not only law enforcement out enforcing the laws but every driver doing their part. When you’re behind the wheel, slow down, buckle up, and put the phone down. Drive safe Iowa, the power is in your hands.” Scott Marler, Director of the Iowa DOT.
The Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement officers will be joining statewide efforts in conducting a special enforcement initiative geared toward seat belt compliance and the reduction of impaired drivers around the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
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.