Muscatine police to conduct special traffic enforcement effort through Friday

Father’s Day should be a time to celebrate, but it can also be one of the deadliest on the roads. The Muscatine Police Department is joining Iowa’s statewide Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force in an effort to reduce deaths on Iowa roadways.

As part of that effort, MPD will be conducting a Pre-Father’s Day special enforcement initiative this Wednesday through Friday geared toward the reduction of impaired drivers leading into Father’s Day week.

While Father’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, June 20, law enforcement officials hope to reverse the dangerous fatality trend with early awareness and enforcement efforts. Sadly, data from the past 10 years indicates Father’s Day weekend shows a higher incidence of impaired drivers on Iowa roads.

To help get everyone home safely, MPD officers will join with other law enforcement agencies from around Iowa to increase the focus on impaired driving.

The effort is part of the safe driving campaign Drive Safe Iowa: The Power Is In Your Hands. The campaign is aimed at educating drivers on the essential role they play in using safe driving habits to reduce roadway deaths and preventable injuries. Focus is placed on the four most dangerous driving behaviors – speeding, impaired, distracted, and not buckling up.

Results from a three-year study conducted by autoinsurance.org indicate that Father’s Day ranks fifth out of the 10 deadliest holidays. Between 2016 and 2018, an average of nearly 439 deadly crashes happened each Father’s Day holiday period on roadways across the United States.

The eventual goal for fatalities for Iowa is ZERO, but the incremental goal for 2021 is under 300, down from 338 in 2020. If achieved, this will be the first time Iowa traffic fatalities were under 300 lives since 1925.

The daily Iowa Traffic Fatality Count, available from the Iowa DOT, shows fatalities are already trending higher than last year at the end of May. In the month of May alone, Iowa had 41 traffic fatalities, which is the highest death count for this month over the past six years. The last time May finished near this fatality level was in 2016 with 39 deaths on the roadways. That year finished with a total of 402 fatalities.

This recent spike in fatalities comes on the heels of a year when COVID-19 wrote a new chapter of excessive speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors in Iowa. For a brief time last spring, law enforcement saw significantly lower traffic volumes as Iowans stayed home and took measures to reduce community spread. As traffic volumes increased in the summer of 2020, fatalities rose dramatically, returning to pre-pandemic volumes with 337 fatalities by the end of the year.

“We’re addressing safe driving from every angle and challenging all Iowans to prevent fatalities before their family loses a loved one,” said Iowa Traffic Fatality Task Force Chair and Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau Chief Patrick Hoye. “As we work toward zero fatalities, our incremental target for 2021 is under 300. If achieved, this will be the first time Iowa traffic fatalities are under 300 lives since 1925,” he added.

As the country continues to open up, summer will bring more holiday gatherings, festivals, graduations and vacations; all involving travel. Typically, some of Iowa’s highest traffic fatality months are June, July, August and September between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.

Iowa’s multi-discipline Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force was created in January 2021 to implement educational, enforcement, and legislative initiatives to help Iowa achieve the target of less than 300 traffic fatalities annually with the ultimate goal of zero fatalities. Enforcement is one key element to reduce fatalities. The task force is led by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa State Patrol.

For more information on the task force and its work, contact Pat Hoye, Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau at 515-725-6120 or hoye@dps.state.ia.us.