Last year in Iowa, the State saw an unsettling result on the roadways: an increase in the number of traffic fatalities. The latest statistics released by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) for the calendar year 2023 reveal a distressing reality: 378 lives were lost due to car crashes, marking a staggering increase of over 12 percent compared to the previous year. This surge not only represents a profound loss for families and communities but also serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing need for enhanced road safety measures.
The gravity of the situation becomes even more apparent when we consider that this figure represents the highest number of fatalities recorded since 2016. What could have triggered such a dramatic spike in traffic-related deaths within a relatively short span of time? While pinpointing the exact causes may be complex, it is imperative to discuss the importance of keeping speed down and eliminating distractions to prevent crashes. DOT education materials indicate 94% of serious crashes are due to dangerous choices or errors made behind the wheel.
Iowa Traffic Fatality Trends
Digging into historical data, a 2016 DOT report sheds light on the magnitude of the challenge. The report documented over 55,000 reported crashes statewide, with more than 46,000 resulting in personal injuries or property damage. While there continues to be a need for more safety improvements and awareness, the trends are not all negative. From 2013 to 2022, there was only one year that had more then 400 fatalities (2016). The ten years previous from 2003 to 2012 had five years where this was the case. The trends also show a slow decrease in the fatality rate despite the number of registered vehicles and licensed drivers increasing.
Achieving the overall goal of continuing to make for safer travel requires a collective effort from all involved. From policymakers to law enforcement agencies, and from educators to individual drivers, everyone has to play a role in fostering a culture of safety and responsibility behind the wheel. This entails not only adhering to traffic laws but also cultivating empathy and mindfulness towards fellow road users. Please remember to pay attention, follow the rules of the road, and drive safely.
While we hope you are never a victim of a car accident, Rush & Nicholson wants you to know we are here to help should you need us. You can find more information about how we can help with vehicle accidents here.