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Statewide Seat Belt Enforcement Program Planned For Thanksgiving

By Staff | Nov 27, 2009

Police officers and Sheriffs’ Deputies across Iowa, along with members of the Iowa State Patrol, will join with law enforcement agencies all over the United Sates in a concentrated crackdown for seat belt usage for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Officers from over 325 agencies will be patrolling Iowa’s city streets, rural roadways and interstates, reminding motorists to buckle up and obey all traffic laws in preparation for the busy, Thanksgiving holiday.

During the holiday period of November 23-29, officers all across the state will be out in force as part of Iowa’s Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP).

As of October 20 of this year, the Iowa Department of Transportation reported 303 traffic fatalities on Iowa roadways so far during 2009. Unfortunately, this number will likely continue to climb as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend can be deadly on the roadways with increased travel during the period. In Iowa, eight persons died on the state’s highways over the same weekend in 2008 and 16 suffered the same fate in 2007.

However, Iowa’s seat belt usage rate remains at 93%, placing the state in the top ten in the country. But, seven percent of Iowans do not buckle up and that translates into some 180,000 drivers and 70,000 front seat passengers on the highways and roadways who are at a much greater risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident.

“Our biggest highway traffic safety challenge remains convincing all motorists to make that 3-second investment to buckle up every trip, every time!” said Randy Hunefeld, STEP Coordinator for the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau.“You don’t always get a second chance in a traffic crash, so why risk it – give yourself that chance by buckling up.”

In Iowa’s last STEP wave for the Labor Day Holiday, which took place from August 21-September 3, 2009, 237 reporting law enforcement agencies encountered 990 impaired drivers, 3,469 seat belt violators, 14,718 speeders and a total of 37,889 traffic violations. Officers made 111 felony and 292 narcotics arrests with 383 arrest warrants served. During the same period, 1,964 motorists were assisted and 1,069 crashes were investigated.

These contributing enforcement efforts have no doubt had an effect on saving lives and preventing serious injury crashes. The next STEP wave enforcement effort is scheduled for March 17-21, 2010 in conjunction with the week encompassing the Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend.

For additional information, go to www.iowagtsb.org or www.nhtsa.dot.gov.