Traffic deaths up nearly 20 percent, speeding a big reason why - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Traffic deaths up nearly 20 percent, speeding a big reason why

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Transportation says traffic deaths are up nearly 20 percent at this time compared to the same time last year.

269 deaths have been reported so far this year, up 43 from 226 at this same point just one year ago.

The Iowa State Patrol says speeding is a major factor.  They posted two pictures to their Facebook page this week showing two speeders pulled over on Highway 20 near I-35 who were going 98 and 110 miles per hour--well over the speed limit.

Never a great idea for anyone, says Trooper Jon Stickney.

"The experience they have at driving those speeds consistently, like I said before, it's not like a professional, they don't get constant training on driving. So when something does happen at those types of speeds, the chances of losing control obviously are going to increase," he said.

The effects of any potential accident are much worse, Stickney says, as the speed continues to increase.

"Anytime you increase your speeds, the chances of death increase dramatically, and the violent portions of that crash against your body increase," he said.

And although summer is wrapping up, many road construction projects still dominate roads throughout Eastern Iowa.

Stickney says it's even more important to watch your speed through these areas.

"I'm not driving on Highway 20 like I've been doing the past 20 years, now I have to drive head on traffic at reduced speed, at 55 miles per hour. So not only have I been going 65 miles per hour, because that was the posted speed limit, I now have to reduce my speed and meet traffic head on in a very congested area," he said.

Seatbelts also make a big difference.

The Iowa DOT reporting that more than 42 percent of the traffic deaths this year weren't wearing seatbelts at the time.

The IDOT also looking to get you involved in their zero fatalities campaign.  They want you to come up with a slogan they can use on their signs throughout the state.  To enter, visit http://ia.zerofatalities.com/create-your-message/.

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