Iowans drive ‘horrific speeds’ as traffic deaths increase

Illustration: Ali Karl / Axios
Traffic deaths have been rising steadily in Iowa since 2020 and preliminary estimates from the first quarter of 2022 suggest they’re not slowing.

News leadership: About 69 Iowans died in car accidents during the first quarter of this year, an increase of nearly 44% compared to 48 in 2021, according to a new report from the US Department of Transportation.

  • The nationwide increase for the same period was 7%, the NHTSA said in its report, reaching an estimated 9,560 deaths — the highest number of deaths in the first quarter in 20 years.
  • Nebraska is the only neighboring state to see a higher percent increase, going from 45 deaths in 2021 to 70 this year.

why does it matter: New data suggests that US roads are getting deadlier and the country is on track for another annual rise in road traffic deaths.

  • Iowa had the 11th highest increase in the country in the NHTSA Early Estimates, released last month.

What is happening: Traffic fatalities began to increase across the country during the pandemic despite the decrease in the number of driving and the decrease in traffic accidents in general, Reported by Joanne Muller of Axios.

  • The AAA study found that people who were on the road tended to be male and younger (39 or younger) and also engage in risky driving behaviour.
  • Half of the people who drove more cars during the pandemic said they were speeding on residential roads and texting, while nearly half reported turning on red lights and aggressively changing lanes.
  • They were also more likely to not wear a seat belt or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Zoom: The average crash rates in Iowa in 2022 are seven higher than the five-year average in the state, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

  • 356 people died in Iowa accidents last year — the highest level in five years, according to the Department of Transportation. So far in 2022, 235 people have died.
  • A disproportionate number of drivers die without a seat belt (47%) in rural areas.

what are they saying: The sergeant said Iowans have been driving “at tremendous speeds” since 2020. Alex Dinkla, a spokesperson for the Iowa State Patrol.

  • Every day, he said, state soldiers pull people who drive at 100mph+ on the roads.

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