Law enforcement stepping up patrols over Thanksgiving weekend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Law enforcement stepping up patrols over Thanksgiving weekend

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - This week, law enforcement officers like State Trooper Mike McCormick will be paying especially close attention to Iowa roads and the travelers using them.

"Thanksgiving is always fairly busy. Traffic's gonna be heavy," said McCormick in an interview Monday night.

It's part of the Special Traffic Enforcement Program, or sTEP, an initiative started in 1996. sTEP is a federally-funded program, which provides between $800,000 and $1 million a year to more than 300 state law enforcement agencies.

The funding allows more troopers and officers to be on roadways for several days, and allows them to patrol in longer shifts.

"What they do is bring people back who are normally scheduled a day off. It brings out extra troopers."

The program has been effective, according to Randy Hunefeld, the program coordinator. Even though Iowa's seat belt usage rate is at 93 percent, he says there's still room for improvement.

"It still means there's about 180,000 drivers, and 70,000 front seat passengers who don't buckle up in the state of Iowa," Hunefeld explained.

McCormick will be watching for anyone not buckling up or following the rules of the road.

"Speed, following too close, seatbelts, and obviously we focus on the drunk driving."

The Thanksgiving weekend has been a deadly one in years past for Iowa motorists. 8 people died this weekend last year, 16 the year before. But McCormick and fellow law enforcement officers will be out there, doing their best to keep that from happening.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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