New traffic safety project aims for zero fatalities by encouragi - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

New traffic safety project aims for zero fatalities by encouraging seat belt use

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PALO ALTO COUNTY, IA (KTIV) - "Buckling up," it's something all of us are expected to do when we get in the car.

But, that doesn't mean everyone's following the law, and just one click could be all it takes to save your life.

"It can mean the difference between life or death if you're involved in a crash," Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz said.

The Iowa State Patrol is taking action to make some of the most dangerous roads safer for drivers.

"When you see that 72-percent of fatalities occurred on gravel roads, on secondary black tops, that makes us think we need to do some changing and looking more serious at those areas," Kurtz said.

Kurtz said driving down these roads is hazardous for quite a few reasons including loose surfaces, gravel, or the type of vehicles traveling down them are some, but the biggest danger is drivers who are not wearing their seat belts.

That's why they've launched a new project in a few counties throughout the state.

"'The High Five traffic Safety project' is a multi-agency effort to increase seat belt use and to reduce the number of fatality crashes," Kurtz said.

This effort includes upping the number of officers and troopers out on the roads to enforce the law, looking at how the roads are built, and educating the public.

In 2013, the Iowa State Patrol reported that 229 lives were saved just from buckling up.

"That number comes from officer investigations of crashes that say the seat belt was the main reason that person lived. That's a significant number of people that wouldn't be with us today if they weren't wearing their seat belt," Kurtz said.

And, many more people can be saved if we all just follow the law.

At this point, the High Five Rural Traffic Safety project is up and running in Palo Alto County, along with four others throughout the state.

But, Iowa State Patrol says if the program goes well, it could expand to more counties.

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