Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
www.dps.state.ia.us

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Friday, November 19, 2010 amurphy@dps.state.ia.us
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

TOO MUCH TURKEY IS NO EXCUSE
FOR NOT TIGHTENING YOUR BELT

Des Moines, IOWA --- With the holidays upon us and millions of Americans hitting the roads, the Iowa Department of Public Safety wants everyone to arrive safely at their destinations. Drivers and passengers need to be sure and buckle up this Thanksgiving holiday. November 23-29, 2010, law enforcement officials from over 400 Iowa agencies will be patrolling city streets, rural roadways and interstates urging motorists to buckle up and obey all traffic laws, as part of Iowa's special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP).

The Iowa Department of Transportation reported 318 fatalities on Iowa roadways as of November 2, 2010. During the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday weekend ten persons perished on Iowa roadways and eight persons perished during the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In November 2009, Iowa had 35 fatalities with a total of 371 fatalities for calendar year 2009. Law enforcement agencies across Iowa will be out in force sending a strong message "Click It or Ticket, Day and Night" aimed at increasing safety belt usage and saving lives.

While Iowa's safety belt use rate remains at 93%, placing the state in the top ten in the country, 7% of Iowans still fail to buckle up when they get in a motor vehicle. This translates into more than 180,000 drivers and 70,000 front seat passengers traveling everyday on our roadways placing themselves and others in their vehicles at risk. "Our biggest highway traffic safety challenge is convincing all motorists to buckle up Day and Night", notes Randy Hunefeld, sTEP Coordinator for the Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau. Hunefeld adds that "by buckling up you have increased your odds by 50% of surviving a crash and reducing the extent of injuries."

During the last sTEP wave that ran August 24-September 6, 2010, 215 reporting law enforcement agencies encountered 684 impaired drivers, 2,855 safety belt violators, 13,795 speeders and other violations for a total of 35, 447 traffic violations. Officers made 135 felony and 289 narcotics arrest with 314 warrants served. During the same period, 2,135 motorists were assisted and 1,146 crashes were investigated.

These contributing enforcement efforts have no doubt had an effect on saving lives and preventing serious injury crashes. The next sTEP wave is scheduled for March 17-20, 2011, in conjunction with the week encompassing the Saint Patrick's Day Weekend.

For additional information, go to www.iowatgtsb.org or www.nhtsa.dot.gov or you may contact:

Randy Hunefeld, sTEP Coordinator
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 5031-0248
(515) 725-6124 or (515) 447-8041
email: hunefeld@dps.state.ia.us
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