The last week of July is typically one of the deadliest periods for crashes on Interstate 80 across the country. That’s why law enforcement in the 11 states along I-80 are teaming up on a campaign beginning today and lasting through the end of the month.
Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lieutenant Robert Hansen says the “I-80 Challenge” has a lofty goal. “To work for eight days across 2,900 miles of Interstate 80 to eliminate every (traffic) fatality during that period,” Hansen says.
The I-80 Challenge is the brainchild of Patrick Hoye, chief of the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety. The campaign will employ the slogan “More Cops, More Stops.” Hansen says Iowa and the 10 other states will raise awareness about the campaign with messages on Department of Transportation signs along I-80.
“At the same time, each of the 11 states has dedicated more troopers to work along Interstate 80,” Hansen says. “So, we want to raise the public awareness and put a premium on people’s safety during these eight days in the hopes that it extends well beyond the eight day period.”
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows there were 350 fatalities on all of I-80 during the last week of July between 2009-2011. Interstate 80 stretches across 300 miles in Iowa. “Looking at 10 years of data in Iowa, across Interstate 80, it reveals more than 17,000 crashes for an average of almost five crashes per day,” Hansen says.
The law officers in the 11 states will be focusing on speeding, impaired driving, and seat-belt use, according to Hansen. In addition to Iowa, the I-80 Challenge involves state police in California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.