In an effort to save more lives on Iowa's roadways, city, county and state law enforcement are continuing to buckle down on those not buckled up. This July wave is part of Iowa's special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP) and will run from July 2-6th.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 39 percent of those killed in motor vehicle crashes in Iowa in 2006 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. That's why law enforcement officials around the state will launch a special "Click It or Ticket" enforcement mobilization around the deadly July 4th holiday period. Additional officers and equipment will be used to conduct traffic enforcement looking for violators during this heavily traveled holiday.
During the May 21-June 3, 2007 sTEP wave, preliminary results from 168 law enforcement agencies reporting showed 394 OWI contacts, 2,902 seat belt violations, 6,027 speed violations, and 383 contacts with unlicensed drivers. Those agencies reported a total of 16,683 traffic contacts from 1,042 officers. Officers also assisted 876 motorists, investigated 712 traffic accidents and served 240 arrest warrants.
"Too many people still take the attitude that it will never happen to me. But fatal crashes can and do happen every day. We've made a lot of progress, but there are still too many unrestrained fatalities in our state," sTEP Coordinator Randy Hunefeld said. "That's why this July and throughout the year, law enforcement agencies are increasing seat belt enforcement to ensure that all passengers - adults and children - in all vehicles, are buckled up."
Although Iowa's observed seat belt rate is now 90 percent, up 15 percent since 1997, young males, pickup truck drivers and their passengers, people who live in rural areas, and nighttime drivers are still among those least likely to buckle up.