Thursday, October 01, 2015

Five Iowa counties chosen for year-long project to promote rural traffic safety

A year-long campaign to increase safety on some of Iowa's most dangerous rural roads kicked off today. The High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project was launched in five counties—Boone, Jackson, Lee, Monona and Poweshiek. Counties were chosen based on five years worth of data on crashes, fatalities and seat belt compliance, states the Iowa Department of Public Safety. About 79 percent of Iowa's roadways are considered rural, and 78.3 percent of fatalities in 2014 occurred on rural roads. The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety reports that "Iowa has the nation's ninth-largest network of rural roads and the 15th-highest fatality rate. Traffic volumes are so low in 11 of the state's 99 counties that traffic lights are a rare sight. (Center for Excellence in Rural Safety photo: Rural road in Iowa)

The High Five campaign, which was initiated last year in Allamakee, Fremont, Marion, Palo Alto and Webster counties, led to an increase in seat belt usage in all five counties, led by Allamakee, where seat belt use increased by 42.6 percent.

"Through enforcement, media and community outreach, participating agencies will work to educate drivers on the benefits of complying with traffic laws, with an emphasis on Iowa’s seat belt law," states Iowa Department of Public Safety. "From an engineering aspect, the focus will be to identify low cost safety improvements throughout the county."

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