Iowa road fatalities reached a six-year high last year as more drivers subscribe to risky and illegal behavior. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, a total of 354 people died on state roads in 2021. That represents a 3% increase compared with the number of traffic fatalities from 2020.
The preliminary number represented the most traffic fatalities in the state since 2016 when 402 people died on Iowa roads. So far, through Jan. 14 of this year, nine people have died on Iowa roads, two more than the same time a year ago. What is contributing to the increased number of traffic deaths?
Speeding and impaired driving
The behavior of Iowa drivers seems to reflect that of drivers nationwide. Many ignore traffic laws and subscribe to dangerous road behavior. Among the factors contributing to the increased number of fatalities include speeding, fewer people wearing seatbelts and more people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Also, do forget the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on traffic patterns and driver behavior. Drivers flouted laws with excessive speeding and even drag racing.
Critical driving behaviors
Considering this spike in traffic fatalities, drivers should remain aware of these safe behaviors:
- Avoid speeding: For more than 20 years, speeding has been a contributing factor to one-third of all U.S. traffic fatalities, according to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA). For 2019, speeding was cited as a contributing factor in 26% of road deaths.
- Buckle up: Strapping on a seat belt will protect you and your passengers.
- Avoid distractions: Keep that cellphone in your pocket and pay attention to your surroundings while driving.
- Focus on defensive driving: Educators have stressed this for years. Always be on the lookout and prepare for the unexpected. Do not be an aggressive driver.
- Be vigilant of erratic, reckless and distracted drivers: This, too, is part of defensive driving. Keep your distance from these drivers who may cause harm.
The news may be startling. Just remember to follow common sense and legal driving behavior.
Focus and remain alert
Too many people have died on Iowa’s and the nation’s roads. The reality is that many of these lives would not be lost if drivers adhered to traffic laws. Speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving and failing to wear seat belts are among the contributing factors to road deaths. Focus on good driving behavior and remain alert to road scofflaws.