Sen. Rob Hogg

With the spike in traffic fatalities in Iowa during 2016, the state senate’s Democratic leader says traffic safety should be a priority issue for the 2017 Iowa legislature. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids was elected leader of Senate Democrats after the November election.

“In 1970, Iowa had over 900 motor vehicle fatalities. Last year, we were down to 317, now we’ve jumped way back up to 400. That’s the wrong direction. We need to work together to continue to drive those numbers down, but that requires people who are committed to making state government work.”

Officials say the latest data indicates at least 400 people died in traffic accidents in Iowa during 2016. Hogg says legislators need to make sure there are enough state troopers patrolling the state’s highways.

“And, by the way, unfortunately Republicans are leading with this effort to take away health benefits from our law enforcement officers and other public workers. I don’t think that’s a solution to the problem. I think we need to support our state troopers,” Hogg says. “We need to add to their numbers.”

Hogg says the state needs “better” laws about distracted driving, too.

“You’re going to see an effort to take away automated traffic enforcement in some places. Well, there are some places in the state where that’s important and then, finally, we need a stronger driver’s education system.”

Hogg made his comments during a town hall meeting stop in Mason City on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)