Iowa could close 2018 with its lowest number of traffic deaths in more than seven decades.
Patrick Hoye, chief of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says around 312 people have died in crashes on Iowa roads this year. That puts the state on pace to improve on a low fatality count posted five years ago.
“In 2013, there were 317 fatalities. Before that, you’d have to go all the way back to 1944 when there were 310 fatalities,” Hoye said. It’s no cause for celebration, but Hoye credits the dip in fatal crashes this year to several factors – including changes in traffic laws.
“Whether it be the ignition interlock law or the primary texting law that were passed – we’re seeing that those are having some impact,” Hoye said. “The educational message going out on texting and driving, the seriousness of that offense, we believe those are all some positive influences.” A law that made texting while driving a “primary” offense took effect on July 1, 2017. Prior to that, police could only issue a citation for texting while driving if the officer stopped the driver for another offense. Hoye believes more Iowans are staying off their phone when they’re behind the wheel.
“The overall consensus is that it has improved slightly, but when we talk to all of our law enforcement partners they tell us it still is a major concern,” Hoye said. Motorists who are caught texting while driving in Iowa can face a fine of over $100.