DES MOINES– Statistics indicate the month of June is one of the deadlier months for traffic fatalities in Iowa, and that a larger number of these fatal accidents occur on Saturday nights. Therefore, the Iowa State Patrol will launch a special enforcement effort during the month of June dubbed “Safe Saturdays.”
Each Saturday during June, the Patrol will activate entire Districts to work between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 2 a.m., increasing their normal staffing levels by 38 percent to 49 percent. Troopers will focus their efforts on excessive speed, seat belt usage, and impaired drivers. All uniformed members of the patrol, regardless of rank, will participate in these “Safe Saturday” projects.
District Commanders have been reviewing available data to determine areas within their respective districts where there are increased speed infractions, impaired drivers and incidence of motor vehicle crashes. On each “Safe Saturday,” Troopers will use saturation patrols to work the identified areas and address these concerns.
The following factors were considered in planning and implementing each “Safe Saturday” project:
- Excessive speed remains a critical factor in many serious injury and fatal collisions.
- In 2008, although 93 percent of drivers and passengers on Iowa roadways were using seatbelts, 139 (43 percent) of those motorists suffering fatal injuries were not using their seat belt at the time of their collision.
- In 2008, 79 persons were killed in crashes involving drunk or drinking drivers. 65 percent of those deaths occurred between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.
- Per mile driven, an Iowa citizen is at least three times more likely to be killed when driving at night.
“When you look critically at the data, it’s obvious that there’s a need for more night time enforcement. That’s where our high risk drivers are,” commented Iowa State Patrol Colonel Patrick J. Hoye. “We intend to fill that need for more night time enforcement. The Iowa State Patrol will do everything we can to prevent death on Iowa roadways.”
According to Lt. Randy Jones, commander for District 11 which includes Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Linn, Poweshiek and Tama counties, Johnson County saw over 4,000 crashes along its roadways from January, 2007, to today, The goal of any safety initiatives by the Iowa State Patrol is always to save lives, Jones said.
“We hope to have a positive impact on accident rates,” said Jones in a telephone interview with the Leader. “When we step up enforcement on holiday weekends, we buy troopers back on their days off so we can place more troopers on the road. We hope that by giving troopers more visibility, people will adjust their driving.”
Widely publicizing the initiatives such as the “Safe Saturdays” efforts might also encourage people to stay off the roads or get designated drivers, Jones added.
“Either way, it’s a win-win situation if we can reduce accidents and save lives,” he said.
The \Safe Saturdays\ enforcement date for the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area is scheduled for June 27.