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Traffic Deaths Declining In Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- One death is too many, but authorities in Iowa are at least thankful the trend in highway fatalities is downward. As of Tuesday afternoon, IDOT reported 317 deaths for the year.
But a spokesperson was quick to point out that it is New Years Eve and there is snow in the forecast and sadly that number could still increase before 2013 comes to a close at midnight.
Ice, snow, rain, speeding, texting, drinking, the list of reasons and causes is long. But compared to 1970, the deadliest year in Iowa highway history when 912 motorists died, this years numbers show a drastic improvement.
IDOT planner, Cathy Cutler says the "Five Es" Safety Program gets much of the credit: Education, Engineering, Enforcement, Emergency Services and Everyone.
The education includes the electronic signs along the interstates showing the updated death toll. Cutler says hopefully its a message that drives home the point.
"What we hope to spark is maybe talk about that at your work, maybe take it home at night, talk to your younger drivers or to your family and remind them somebody has lost their life due to some kind of traffic incident."
Enforcement on the highways is also making a difference. Lawmakers are being asked to make texting and driving a primary offense. Right now, troopers can only stop motorists for another violation and then ticket them if they are also texting. Bob Conrad with the Iowa State Patrol says the change would make enforcement much easier. By the way, he says the biggest excuse he hears isnt fooling anyone.
"If someone says I was making a phone call you have to observe them long enough to say you were not making a phone call, ten numbers to make a phone call if I see them punch about twenty times, they're not making a phone call."
Engineering has also helped to cut the highway death toll with cable barriers to keep cars from shooting across the grassy medians. Parts of interstates, such as the S curve on I-380 have also been redesigned and resurfaced to cut down on accidents.
The final E is everyone. Cutler says its important for all of us to take responsibility and follow the laws so we arent a hazard on the road and contributing to the death toll.
"We really want to have a year when we don't have any traffic fatalities, that's our goal."