Trooper John Farley.

The Governor’s Safety Traffic Bureau has identified five Iowa counties it wants to target to try and cut an increase in traffic accidents during the past year. Carroll, Marshall, Benton, Muscatine and Plymouth County are part of the project known as the “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Program.”

Iowa State Patrol trooper, John Farley, says for Plymouth County making the list was based on the number of accidents — not just accidents resulting in a death.

“Plymouth County only had three fatality accidents last year — but there was 80 personal injury accidents or fatalities total. And that does represent kind of a large number for the population — so per capita,” Farley says. “Sixteen of those accidents did occur within the city limits of Le Mars, but the other 64 did happen outside of Le Mars, or in the county areas.”

Farley says for Plymouth County and the others on the “High Five” list, they will do some additional patrolling of the county’s roads and highways. He says they will work projects throughout the year and focusing on impaired drivers. Farley says it’s not just drunk driving. It will be drivers impaired by alcohol, narcotics and prescription drugs.

The Iowa State Patrol trooper says in addition to a step up of enforcement activity, there will be several educational and informative ads. Farley says they will focus on driver’s ed programs and give educational talks to civic organizations. Farley says in addition to watching for impaired drivers, the “High Five” program will look for distracted driving, primarily those drivers that are texting while driving, and drivers who are speeding.

“We’ve said it before — speed kills. We’ve always heard that and it still is.The number one factor in accidents is speed related,” Farley says.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau says 72 percent of the fatal crashes in Iowa in 2015 occurred on secondary rural roads. Rural roads make up approximately 79 percent of the total roadways in the state.

(Story and photo by Dennis Morris, KLEM, Le Mars)