Iowa State Patrol Stepping Up Presence for I-80/I-35 Challenge

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa State Patrol is taking part in the I-80/I-35 Challenge – which will have officers from across the nation looking for impaired drivers, drivers that are not utilizing their safety-belt systems, drivers that are speeding, and distracted drivers that are doing things like texting and other things while in their automobile that takes their attention away from operating their motor vehicle safely.

16 states are participating in the challenge; from California to New Jersey as well as from Texas all the way to Minnesota. The states where either Interstate 80 or 35 pass through them have volunteered to participate in the challenge and will have heightened enforcement on Friday, August 28th through Sunday, August 30th. Colonel Michael Van Berkum says August is one of the deadliest months on both interstate systems, telling Channel 13 News, “the challenge is to reduce the fatalities and the injuries that we have seen over five years of compiling data, and it shows that August is a dangerous month. Presently in Iowa, we have 203 fatalities as of today. Which is 11 higher than last year at this time period.” Of the I-80/I-35 Challenge, Colonel Van Berkum also telling Channel 13 News, “with the beginning of college and schools, we’d thought it be the perfect time to try and slow traffic down and be more safe.”

Colonel Van Berkum says it’s the goal of the Iowa State Patrol to make sure that people arrive at their destination safely, telling Channel 13 News, “yes, there will be tickets involved, warnings involved and stopping people that are distracted, letting them know that, ‘hey, there’s more important things than texting while you’re driving.’” As to the tools that will be involved in the stepped up presence on the interstate highway systems, Colonel Van Berkum told Channel 13 News, “we’ll be using all of our radar systems and the lidar systems, the aircraft, stop watches and we’ll be offering some overtime to some of our officers, but we’ll be running more projects out there but also just having officers patrol the interstate systems to slow people down.”

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