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Authorities Gearing Up For Special Enforcement

By Staff | Mar 12, 2009

With Emmetsburg gearing up for the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, the Emmetsburg Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol wish the luck of the Irish for all visitors to the community this weekend. However, the two law enforcement agencies will be conducting a special safety enforcement campaign this weekend.

With the goal of making this St. Patrick’s Day Weekend a safe and enjoyable event, the Emmetsburg Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol’s District Six office in Spencer will be beefing up patrols in the Emmetsburg area. Additional State Troopers will be patrolling the roads, addressing all types of traffic violations, including speeding violations, occupant restraints and alcohol violations. Special emphasis will be placed on getting impaired drivers off the road.

According to statistics, traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for people between the ages of five and 34. Looking at the cause of those traffic deaths, alcohol continues to be the biggest contributing factor in fatal crashes throughout the country. Over 12,000 people lost their lives in 2007 from alcohol-related crashes.

Law enforcement authorities offer several safety tips for those who will be traveling the roadways over the St. Patrick’s Holiday.

First and most importantly, if you plan to consume alcohol, use a designated driver. Physical and mental impairment begins at one drink, not at .08 percent.

Wear you seatbelts on every trip, no matter where you sit. Seatbelt use is the best defense against drunk drivers. In January and February of this year alone, 27 lives have been saved on Iowa’s roads because seatbelts were being worn properly.

Always obey posted speed limits and utilize a safe following distance. Speeding increases the forces involved in a crash, along with extending braking distance. Use the three-second rule when following another vehicle.

While the Emmetsburg Police will be adding extra patrols in the community and the Iowa State Patrol will be adding extra troopers and patrols over the upcoming weekend, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office will be taking part in a special traffic enforcement initiative program (STEP), which will run March 12-17.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office will join with 230 other law enforcement agencies statewide to increase enforcement of traffic laws. This March STEP enforcement will concentrate on removing drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after drinking too much over St. Patricks’ weekend.

In 2008, Iowa recorded 414 traffic fatalities, down from the 2007 figure of 446. However, any fatality is one too many. “The tragic loss of life could be cut in half if individuals would take the time to buckle up, slow down and drive sober,” noted Randy Hunefeld, STEP coordinator for the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau in Des Moines.

During the 2008 March STEP wave, 1,500 officers from 231 law enforcement agencies took part in the effort, which identified 17.457 traffic violations. A total of 457 drunk drivers were removed from the roadways, while 1,994 seat belt violations were issued and 6,404 speeding contact were issued. A total of 382 accidents were investigated and one fatality was reported during the enforcement wave.