By Matt Kelley (Radio Iowa)
Many Iowans will be making road trips to see family and friends this Thanksgiving week and they’re being reminded to obey the rules of the road, starting with buckling up.
State Patrol Trooper Ryan Devault, based in Council Bluffs, says there have been 302 people killed on Iowa’s roads since the beginning of the year. Devault says, “An alarming trend in that is that 44-and-a-half percent of those 302 fatalities are unrestrained motorists, or driver or passenger are not wearing their seatbelts.” The number of reckless, impatient and aggressive drivers has been rising, he says, since the pandemic began to wane and more motorists took to the road.
Devault says many accidents involve some sort of bad driver behavior, like weaving in-and-out of traffic, tailgating and brake-checking other drivers. He says one of the most important things drivers need to be is patient. “Anytime but especially over any type of a holiday weekend, we just know that there’s going to be increased travel,” Devault says. “AAA is expecting this to be the third-busiest Thanksgiving in the last 21 years. It’s just a matter of giving yourself extra time to get where you’re going, to make sure you’re increasing that following distance.”
Distracted driving is another factor in many crashes, he says, and motorists need to keep their eyes and minds on the road. “If you see multiple brake lights lighting up half mile or a mile or so ahead of you, that ought to tell you that there must be something, traffic must be slowing,” Devault says. “What we’re seeing is a lot of people are missing those visual clues and then all of a sudden, they pop over a hill and traffic is stopped and we have somebody run into the back to somebody else.”
Last year in Iowa, 11 people were killed on the state’s roads during the long Thanksgiving weekend.