Iowa State Patrol: Traffic deaths up, more speeding, impaired driving


(Des Moines, IA) -- Iowa traffic safety groups are hoping to keep the number of traffic fatalities under 300 this year. There have been 119 people killed on Iowa roads this year. Iowa State Patrol Colonel Nathan Fulk says the year to date number is a 25-percent increase over a year ago. He says high speed and impaired driving are known to raise the risk of deadly crashes, and officers have seen both trends.

"Law enforcement offices across Iowa are seeing some of the fastest speeds and impaired driving they've seen in their careers," said Colonel Fulk.

He says the trend of extreme speeding started last year during the pandemic and has continued into 2021. He says this year speeds over 100 miles per hour are still up 32-percent.

The Iowa State Patrol, the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, and other law enforcement groups met outside the Iowa Capitol this (Tuesday) afternoon to share data. They shared the information in front of two of the many state vehicles damaged in crashes over the winter.

One was an Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle, assigned to Officer Theresa Fox. She was working on I-29 February 24, 2021, when she was hit by a commercial vehicle. She was okay.

The Iowa State Patrol squad car was hit February 4th, 2021, as Trooper Colburn was responding to a 40-car pile-up on I-80 near Newton. The Trooper was checking on other crash victims when the squad car was hit.

The Traffic Reduction Task Force reports the comprehensive cost of fatal crashes on Iowa's streets and highways exceeds $3.5 billion annually and Iowa traffic crashes have claimed nearly 3,500 lives in the last 10 years. The group says last year, nearly 36-percent of fatalities tested positive for either alcohol or drugs. In 2019, distracted driving was identified as a contributing factor in nearly 1,100 crashes.

Photos by Sue Danielson