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High 5 Traffic Program Pays Off

By Staff | Oct 15, 2015

A?year-long enforcement effort designed to cut traffic fatalities and increase compliance with traffic laws in Palo Alto County has paid off in a positive way.

On April 1, 2014, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office joined four other Iowa counties in the “High 5” Program, an 18-month program sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. The purpose of the program was to address high accident rates, along with high injury and fatality rates, as well as low seat belt usage. Through the program, grant funds paid salaries to sheriff’s deputies to allow for greater enforcement of traffic regulations with the intent of lowering the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities while at the same time, increasing the use of seat belts in the county.

According to data provided by the Iowa Department of Transportation, Palo Alto County recorded 1,165 accidents between 2004 and 2013, resulting in 517 injuries and 19 fatalities. When the program began in April 2014, the county had an 88 percent seatbelt compliance rate.

“Although not all of the data has been compiled yet, Palo Alto County had 159 accidents during the High 5 Program, compared to 218 the past 18 months,”?noted Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes. “This represents a 24 percent decrease in accidents. This is the lowest accident rate in an 18 month period going back to October of 2006 to March of 2008 when there were 156 accidents. I think this is a fantastic number when you consider the increased traffic on our roads each year. The best thing about the past 18 months is there were no fatality-related accidents.”

As a result of the increased traffic enforcement, seat belt usage also increased. Palo Alto County saw an increase in seat belt use from 88 percent to 94 percent compliance.

“This is a great number too, when you consider you are more likely to be seriously injured or killed if not secured, ” Schultes added.

“I want to encourage all residents to continue to be mindful of your driving habits and continue to be safe drivers,”?Schultes said. “This can be done in part by reducing your speed, stopping completely as stop signs and looking both ways before you enter an intersection. Look ahead before you pass another vehicle and always wear your seatbelt. With everyone’s help, our roads will continue to be a safer place to drive.”