Special enforcement under way
Area law enforcement agencies are once again trying to instill a little caution in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
The Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau is coordinating efforts with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state in an effort to make the holiday safer.
The special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP) effort will continue through Sunday, Nov. 30. Officers, including deputies with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, will be out on Iowa's roadways to promote safe driving through the compliance of Iowa's traffic laws.
During the 2007 Thanksgiving holiday, there were 13 crashes with 16 fatalities and 3 of those were alcohol related. As of October 31, 2008, Iowa DOT has reported 323 fatalities, 24 less than a year ago.
The Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau also is funding year-round efforts to add patrols from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights -- when patrons are most likely to be leaving bars or homes where alcohol is being consumed.
"We're out there because we have been seeing an increase in drunk driving," Clay County Sheriff Randy Krukow said.
The Spencer Police Department also is participating in the Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau programs.
Officers will be looking for the usual seat belt violations. Added enforcement also helps deputies locate people with outstanding arrest warrants, defective equipment and motorists who are operating a vehicle without a driver's license.
This effort is the first sTEP event for 2008-09 program year. With the help of the motoring public, education and law enforcement, Iowa has reached 92.9 percent seat belt usage up from 91.4 percent a year ago.
"Iowans traditionally do very well when it comes to seat belt usage," said Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Eugene Meyer. "But one death is too many. I believe the number of fatalities could easily be reduced if occupants would take time to buckle up, slow down and drive sober."
BY THE NUMBERS:
Added patrols during Thanksgiving week mark the first wave of special traffic enforcement by more than 300 agencies in Iowa. Here are totals from the past year, according to the Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau:
* 310 operating while intoxicated charges;
* 1,627 seat belt violations;
* 8,613 speeding violations;
* 18,640 total traffic violations;
* 947 collisions were covered;
* 1,517 motorists were assisted;
* 36 felony arrests were made;
* 112 narcotics arrests were made.