Law officers across Iowa will be stepping up their patrols over the Thanksgiving holiday through a Special Traffic Enforcement Program or STEP. Randy Hunefeld, coordinates STEP through the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. Local police, county sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and others will be taking part in the program all next week, starting Monday and running through Sunday, December 1st.

Hunefeld says, “They’re going to be looking for violators and stopping them and trying to get them to change their bad driving behaviors which typically are speeding, not buckling up and drunk driving.” The Thanksgiving holiday last year was deadly for several motorists traveling across Iowa. “Last year, we had nine fatalities over the three-day holiday weekend,” Hunefeld says. “Six of those were people that were unbuckled.”

Hunefeld said it’s wise to follow the speed limit and use your seat belt as you travel to your Thanksgiving destination. Hunefeld says, “Take that extra three seconds and buckle up, even if you’re not required to buckle up in the back seat, if you’re an adult, buckle up anyway because that, in a crash, can save lives inside the vehicle.”

In the most recent Iowa DOT report, there have been 263 traffic deaths this year so far statewide. That’s 40 fewer deaths than a year ago at this time. Of those deaths this year, 39-percent were reported as not wearing seat belts.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)