Iowans are driving at "egregious speeds" as traffic fatalities increase
Traffic fatalities have steadily risen in Iowa since 2020 and preliminary estimates from the first quarter of 2022 show they're not slowing down.
Driving the news: Around 69 Iowans died in car accidents during the first quarter of this year, a roughly 44% jump compared to 48 in 2021, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- The nationwide increase for the same period was 7%, reaching an estimated 9,560 deaths — the highest number of first-quarter fatalities in 20 years, NHTSA said in its report.
- Nebraska is the only neighboring state that saw a higher percent increase, going from 45 fatalities in 2021 to 70 this year.
Why it matters: The new data suggests U.S. roads are becoming more deadly and that the country is on pace to have yet another annual rise in traffic fatalities.
- Iowa had the 11th highest increase in the nation in the early NHTSA estimates, released last month.
What's happening: Traffic fatalities began growing nationwide during the pandemic even though fewer people were driving and overall traffic accidents dropped, Axios' Joann Muller reported.
- The people who were on the road tended to be disproportionately male and younger (39 and under) and also engaged in risky driving behavior, an AAA study found.
- Half of the people who drove more during the pandemic said they were speeding on residential roads and texting, while nearly half reported running red lights and changing lanes aggressively.
- They were also more likely to not be wearing a seat belt or to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Zoom in: Iowa's 2022 crash rates are averaging seven fatalities higher in comparison to the state's five-year average, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
- 356 people died in Iowa accidents last year — a five-year high, according to the DOT. So far in 2022, 235 people have died.
- A disproportionate amount of drivers are dying without a seat belt on (47%) and are in rural areas.
What they're saying: Iowans have been driving at "egregious speeds," since 2020, said Sgt. Alex Dinkla, spokesperson for Iowa State Patrol.
- State troopers are pulling over people every day who are driving 100mph+ speeds on the roads, he said.
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