5 Iowa counties to participate in new rural traffic safety project

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Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 12:18 PM CDT
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SIDNEY, Iowa (WOWT) - Fremont County will be one of several counties participating in a new traffic safety initiative.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, a new initiative called the “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project” will begin on Dec. 1, 2022. The project calls for increasing traffic safety on rural roads.

The Department of Public Safety says in 2021, 72% of fatal crashes in Iowa were on secondary rural roads. And roughly 79% of Iowa’s roads are considered secondary.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and a multi-disciplinary team of traffic safety professionals looked at five years of crash data and selected five rural counties to be in the project.

The five counties include Appanoose, Fremont, Humboldt, Keokuk and Mitchell.

A three-tier approach to traffic safety will be involved in the High Five project. It will include law enforcement, engineering and education. The overall goal is to build a safer community.

“In the first nine months on Iowa roadways, there have been 255 fatalities,” the Department of Public Safety said. “Each and every life lost is a tragedy. In addition to fatalities, it is also important to recognize the number of serious injuries sustained in traffic crashes.”

Participating agencies in the project will educate drivers on why they should obey traffic laws and will put an emphasis on seat belt law.

The engineering portion of the project will look at low-cost safety improvements.

The Department of Public Safety says those participating in the project understand how improving safety on rural roads will be a different challenge.

“Law enforcement and county engineers within the High Five counties 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.”

Iowa’s percentage of rural fatalities is above the national average. Iowa’s average for fatal crashes on rural roads is 72%. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says the national average for roadway fatalities is 43%.

The High Five project will begin Dec 1., 2022 and will run through Sept. 30, 2023.