The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau is helping coordinate a Thanksgiving holiday enforcement project today through Sunday. Bureau Chief Patrick Hoye says additional law officers will be on the road this week monitoring motorists, with a special emphasis on seat belt use.

“Iowa does have one of the highest seat belt compliance rates in the nation at 94-percent, but unfortunately, we’re seeing a large percentage of our fatalities not buckled up,” Hoye says. While 94-percent of Iowans are buckling up, around 37-percent of the fatal traffic crashes in the state involve motorists who are not wearing safety belts.

Hoye says the figures clearly show that buckling up increases a person’s odds of surviving a major crash. There were 363 fatalities from traffic crashes in Iowa last year, a 66-year low, but 115 victims were not wearing a seat belt. Hoye say the state is on track to record more traffic fatalities this year.

“We are currently five above where we were a year ago, so that’s obviously not the direction we want to see. The intent of law enforcement is to drive down the fatality rate,” Hoye said. Iowa’s seat belt law took effect in 1985. The fine for failing to buckle up can top $125.