A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Transportation says it looks like traffic deaths in the state will be right around the 10-year average once all the information is in.
Scott Falb monitors the information in the DOT’s Office of Driver Services. Falb says it looks like we’ll finish very close to last year at 439, which he says is near the 10-year average of 442.
Falb says there is something encouraging in looking at the fatality numbers from the past two years. In 2005 we went up to 450 traffic deaths and if there are a couple of years below that, and then a drop next year, then you can say we’re in a small trend.
July was the worst month in 2007 with 51 people losing their lives. Falb says that’s probably due to good weather and travel conditions as there were a lot of people on the road — including more motorcycles — and the number of motorcycle deaths were also up in that month. He says overall motorcycle deaths hit 62, the highest total since 1982, and he says the jump in July is part of the reason.
Falb says the jump in motorcyle deaths in the last 11 years is dramatic. In 1996 Iowa recorded 6 motorcycle deaths and Falb says,"to have the numbers tansposed and have 61 now is a very significant increase" that far outstrips the increase in motorcycle registrations.
Falb says part of the increase in motorcycle deaths is likely due to older riders getting back on bikes as he says a lot of the riders are "middle aged" men who gae up riding when they had families and are getting back on bigger bikes and they haven’t taken safety courses. He says they’re on bigger bike with reflexes and vision that’s not as good as it used to be.
Falb says all the the traffic deaths for this year won’t be know for several months into the new year as it takes some time for reports to be completed sent into the department.