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Iowa Traffic Fatalities Over 20 Percent More Frequent Compared to Recent Years

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa State Patrol says traffic fatalities in Iowa are over 20 percent more frequent than they typically have been this time of year over the last five years.

They say deaths on Iowa roads is an issue they don't want trending but they need help from those behind the wheel.

State troopers, ambulances, and the life-flight helicopter are all sights Sergeant Nathan Ludwig with the owIa State Patrol says they are becoming all too familiar with seeing along Iowa roadways.

"I think the alarming thing is, in May, there were 39 fatalities so there was more than one fatality per day in the month of May," Sgt. Ludwig said.

Safe driving initiatives across the country seem to be keeping most drivers eyes on the road. Missouri is down 22 fatalities from last year, Nebraska is down 27, Kansas is down five, but Iowa is up 31 deaths with a total of 144.

"It's pretty alarming and the biggest thing is probably intoxicated drivers," Sgt. Ludwig said. "35-40 percent of fatalities involve alcohol."

A single-vehicle crash around 3 p.m. Friday along I-80 west at the Redfield-Dexter exit looked like it could add to the growing list of deaths but investigators say both driver and passenger are expected to survive after a diabetic condition caused the driver to lose control.

However, most wrecks are believed to be avoidable.

"It`s kind of frustrating because it`s common sense stuff we are seeing," Sgt. Ludwig said. "Wear your seatbelt, don`t be distracted and don`t drink and drive."

So why have Iowans taken a back seat to safety?

"I think people are more distracted than they`ve ever been," Sgt. Ludwig said. "People are so in tune with their phones, movies and what`s going on in the car, they don`t anticipate whats coming at them."

Until drivers get the message, most can anticipate that death toll to stay on the rise.

"We keep preaching it and I don`t know when it`s going to click," Sgt. Ludwig said. "I think the higher the number goes, the more awareness we are going to get but we don`t want to get that kind of awareness with those high numbers. We just want to see that number drop."

Ludwig also says that 44 percent of the fatalities this year have involved people not wearing their seatbelts.

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