Despite a newly
raised speed limit on interstate highways in the state, fatalities in Iowa over
the Fourth of July holiday weekend were the lowest in 10 years, state officials
spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said this year’s
Independence Day weekend netted only one fatality accident, despite a speed
limit increase from 65 mph to 70 mph.
“Any loss of life is
tragic, but if the fatalities for the weekend stand at one or two, that’s pretty
good,” Saunders told the Des Moines Register. “One (fatality) would be
the lowest in 10 years.”
The one fatality
that did occur between July 2 and July 4, Saunders said, wasn’t even on an
interstate highway. A second fatal accident involved an all-terrain vehicle in
a state park.
The lower death rate could have something to do with
stepped-up enforcement in the state in anticipation of the added holiday
traffic, as well as the new higher speed limit, which went into effect on July
1. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who signed
the bill into law but has opposed higher speed limits in the past, said he
would direct the Iowa State Patrol to strictly enforce the 70 mph limit.
“With strict enforcement, we shouldn’t see increased
accidents,” he told The Associated Press.
During the four-day
weekend, 2,204 tickets – up from 1,873 the previous year for the same time
period – were issued. However, at least one officer said most motorists stuck
to the new law.
“People did pretty
well for the most part,” State Patrol Officer Mark Schumacher told KIMT-TV. “The average speed didn’t increase a great deal – a lot of people were running
right at 70 mph.”