DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa State Patrol leads Iowa’s statewide Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force in an effort to reduce deaths on Iowa roadways. As part of that effort state troopers will conduct a special enforcement initiative geared toward reduction of distracted driving on Oct. 2-4. According to the past ten years of crash data, this time period is one of the most deadly in the state.
Any activity that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or your mind off the task of driving can be dangerous. Combining these behaviors doing things like texting while driving compounds the risk. State troops will join law enforcement agencies from around Iowa to reduce distracted driving and help everyone arrive home safely.
Drivers Can’t Do Two Things at Once
- Drivers who use hand-held devices while driving are 4 times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others.
- Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
- In Iowa, the number of crashes due to drivers distracted by the use of phones or other devices has been on the rise again since 2018, topping out at 1,101 in 2019, and crashes are on pace to exceed that total in 2021.
- In a three-year survey average, only 30.2% of Iowa drivers stated they never use cell phones when driving.
Young Drivers Are Especially At Risk
- Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Their lack of driving experience can contribute to critical misjudgments if they become distracted.
- Not surprisingly, young drivers text more than any other age group and the number of those who text is only increasing. It’s a trend that poses a growing danger.
- Parents need to set a good example for their children and show them from an early age that is just not safe to text and/or talk on their phone while driving.
- The eventual goal for fatalities in Iowa is ZERO, but the incremental goal for 2021 is under 300, down from 338 in 2020. If achieved, this will be the first time Iowa traffic fatalities were under 300 lives since 1925. As of Thursday, there have been 254 deaths on Iowa’s roadways – that’s 10 more fatalities than on this date last year.
Iowa’s multi-discipline Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force was created in 2021 to implement educational, enforcement and legislative initiatives to help Iowa achieve the target of less than 300 traffic fatalities annually, with the ultimate goal of zero fatalities. Enforcement is one key element to reduce fatalities. The task force is led by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa State Patrol.