Law enforcement officers are hoping there will be fewer traffic fatalities in Iowa this year compared to 2007. Last year, 440 people were killed in crashes on Iowa roads. Randy Hunefeld with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau says so far there have been nearly 350 traffic fatalities in 2008. "As of last week, I believe we were down about 25 fatalities from the previous year," Hunefeld said. "So, we are looking better but that’s still way too many."
The decline in traffic fatals can be attributed, in part, to fewer people driving. Many Iowans canceled travel plans during this summer’s run of record high gas prices. Hunefeld also credits increased seat belt usage. He says a survey conducted this year indicated 92.9-percent of Iowans were wearing a seat belt, up from 91.4-percent in 2007.
Hunefeld says most traffic crashes in Iowa could be avoided if more drivers would pay attention to the road, rather than their cell phones or i-pods. "We’re finding out that distracted drivers are involved in quite a few accidents," Hunefeld said. "They’re either texting, talking on the cell phones, eating, putting on makeup…you name it and drivers are out there doing it."