Fremont County was chosen as one of five rural counties to participate in the “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project” to help reduce traffic fatalities on rural roads. In 2012, 72% of fatal crashes in Iowa occurred on secondary rural roads.
In 2012, 72% of fatal crashes in Iowa occurred on secondary rural roads. Approximately 79% of Iowa’s total roadways are considered secondary in nature. Due to these alarming statistics, rural safety has become a major concern.
Beginning April 1, a new initiative identified as “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project” will be launched to focus on traffic safety on Iowa’s rural roadways. After reviewing 10 years of crash data and looking at counties with low seat belt compliance rates, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau along with a multi-disciplinary team of traffic safety professionals selected five rural counties to participate in this project.
The counties participating in the project include Allamakee, Marion, Webster, Fremont and Palo Alto. The High Five project will involve a three-tier approach to include enforcement, engineering and education with the ultimate goal to build a safer community. Through enforcement, media, and community outreach, participating agencies will work to educate drivers on the benefits of complying with traffic laws with an emphasis on Iowa’s seat belt law. From an engineering aspect, the focus will be to identify low cost safety improvements throughout the county.
During 2013, there were 317 fatalities in the state of Iowa. Although a record low number of fatalities for the state, every one is tragic and 317 is still too many. In addition to fatalities it is also important to recognize the number of serious injuries sustained in traffic crashes. The county sheriffs and county engineers within the High Five counties and the Iowa State Patrol are conscientious safety advocates who understand rural roads are unique because they are shared by a variety of vehicle types from passenger vehicles to large machinery and other farm implements traveling at slower speeds. The road surface types and speeds also vary. Patrick Hoye, Bureau Chief of the Governor’s Traffic Safety stated, “Because we are focusing on several different aspects of crash reduction, we believe the high 5 project will be successful in saving lives.”
Enforcement efforts on roadways with higher volumes are common, but with Iowa’s percentage of rural fatalities above the national average the need to have a special program focusing coordinated efforts on rural safety has become apparent.
The High Five project will begin on April 1, 2014, and will conclude on September 30, 2015.
For specific information in regard to the High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project, please contact Randy Hunefeld, Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, (515)725-6124, Hunefeld@dps.state.ia.us.