Motorists in Iowa are reminded to buckle-up, slow down and make sure they obey all traffic laws during the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Officials with the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Bureau say a Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) will be in effect, with law enforcement officers from various agencies on the lookout for motorists who are not wearing their seat belts, speeders, erratic drivers, and persons with defective vehicle equipment (Such as tail lights out, expired license plates, etc.).
Authorities say the holiday period (6-p.m. Wednesday, November 25th – to 6-a.m. Monday, November 30th) is the busiest travel time of the year for American motorists. Unfortunately, more motorists on the roads increase the likelihood of traffic crashes. Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to prevent injury or death in a crash. The risk of a fatal injury goes down by 45% when seat-belted in a passenger car and 60% when in a light truck.
During the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend (the last year in which information is available), there were 301 people, nationwide, lost their lives on roadways (two in Iowa), in which a staggering 58%were not wearing seat belts. Preliminary numbers indicate that there were three fatalities in Iowa during the same period in 2014. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 12,584 lives were saved by seat belts in 2013 and an additional 2,800 more could have been saved if everyone had worn seat belts.
Iowa has one of the highest seat belt compliance rates in the nation at 92.96 percent but the unbuckled 7.04 percent represent 46 percent of the fatalities. The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) Chief Patrick Hoye stated, “This is really troubling, almost half of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts; we see way too many preventable fatalities in crashes.”
The Iowa DPS and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau reminds you that whether you are traveling near or far take a moment to simply buckle your seat belt.