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Special traffic effort planned for St. Patrick’s Day

DES MOINES — The state’s new Traffic Fatality Task Force will launch the first of four special traffic enforcement efforts Wednesday for St. Patrick’s Day.

State Patrol Spokesman Alex Dinkla says they bring all agencies together to work on the issue. “As a fatality reduction task force, one of the first things we looked at was data over the last ten years. What are the four deadliest days in Iowa to be on the road? The first one peaked out here to be March 17th,” Dinkla says.

He says the ultimate goal is to get to zero fatal accidents on the roadways. “But before we get to zero — we need to get below 300 — which has not been attained since 1925,” he says.

Trooper Dinkla says alcohol is a big factor in the accidents that happen on St. Patrick’s Day. “And our main focus in an enforcement action is going to be looking at people who are not only driving impaired, but also people who are not seat belted. Just wearing that seatbelt is one way that you can be uninjured or not killed in a crash,” Dinkla says.

People driving and using their phones or other devices will also be a focus. “Distracted driving is one of the things we are seeing on a huge rise of people driving and why crashes are happening,” Dinkla says. “And that’s also going to be one of our focuses.”

Drivers started going faster during the pandemic — and Dinkla says they want to get the message out that it is not okay. “Speeds have not slowed down at all. I think every month except for January in 2020, we saw an increase in our citations of people driving at 100-miles-an-hour or more,” Dinkla says.

Dinkla says having St. Patrick’s Day in the middle of the week doesn’t mean people will ease up on the celebrating.

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