So far this year, 136 people have been killed in traffic crashes on Iowa roads. Alex Murphy, with the Iowa Department of Public Safety, notes dozens of lives may’ve been saved if people had buckled up.
“Fifty-one of those were without a seat belt, that’s about 45 percent,” Murphy says. “We’re hoping we can increase our enforcement and our outreach to really get the word out that it’s just a simple step. When you get in that car, it should be a normal habit to just reach over and buckle up. It only takes a few seconds and can honestly save a life.”
The 136 traffic fatalities to date compares to 108 at this time in 2015. Murphy says there’s no clear reason why traffic deaths are up this year. “Weather doesn’t seem to be a factor, but we’re just seeing some days where we see up to 5 or 6 fatalities in a day. As the numbers show, there are quite a few of those that were unbuckled,” Murphy says.
Two young men from Ottumwa were killed this week when the pickup they were in rolled off a road. Neither were wearing seat belts. Murphy says national statistics show 61 percent of people who did in pickup truck accidents were not buckled.
“It’s not only a problem here in Iowa, but we want to focus on our state because we are so rural and we see a lot of pickups on the roadways,” Murphy says. “No matter whether you’re in a car or pickup, we want you to buckle up for sure.”
A Click It or Ticket enforcement effort is underway across the state through June 6. Motorists who are stopped and ticketed in Iowa for failure to buckle up can face a fine and court costs of close to $127.