The Iowa State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies have circled today on their calendars.

Trooper John Farley says the reason is the numbers for traffic deaths on the state’s highways that are historically seen on this day.
“June 30th for the last ten years has been the single deadliest day in Iowa,” he explains. “..We think that maybe it would be around a holiday or the Thanksgiving holiday where we do see a lot of increase in travel for the holiday. But for some reason — this day — the last day in June is the number one deadliest.”

Farley says it doesn’t matter which day June 30th would fall on, it has been proven to be the deadliest on the roadways. “We don’t really know why — but it is usually by this time of year schools are obviously out for the year, the travel season has really come into full swing. So, I am sure that has a lot to do with it,” Farley says.

Farley the COVID-19 pandemic had led to less traffic on the roadways this year compared to past years, which has meant fewer fatal accidents. The death toll now is around 111. “Last year if you take a look we were at 142, so that is almost a 22 percent decrease,” Farley says. “And one of the things the Iowa State Patrol has been focusing on for the last couple of years is the below 300 number. That is where we would like to see the fatalities — obviously we would like to see that at zero — but we want to get our fatality rate at under 300.”

He says it has been some time since the state had fewer than 300 annual fatal vehicle accidents. “Believe it or not the last time we were under the 300 mark for fatalities was 1929. And so when you take a look at big events like World War Two, we had travel restrictions and gas rationing and all that — we were still over those numbers. And then you take a look at the high number decades and years, back in the ’70s when Iowa fatalities rates were in the nine hundreds and the ’80s where we were in the seven hundreds,” Farley says.

Farley says Iowa finished the year with 322 highway deaths last year. Farley says drivers need to remember to slow down, buckle up, avoid distractions, and drive sober.

(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, LeMars)