116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A recent study has found the U.S. to have the highest roadway death rate among 19 other high-income countries - averaging 90 motor vehicle crash deaths each day.
Meanwhile, Iowa has seen 40 percent more traffic fatalities than this time last year, according to state data.
A Wednesday report entitled 'Vital Signs” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that while the nation reduced crash deaths by 31 percent from 2000 to 2013, the other high-income countries on the list averaged a 56 percent reduction in crash deaths in the same period. The U.S. vehicle crash death rate was 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the report.
'Although significant progress has been made in reducing motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S., we can and must do better,” Debra Houry, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a Wednesday press call. 'Even when accounting for population size and registered vehicles, the U.S. still had the highest rate of motor vehicle crash deaths.”
The U.S. also scored poorly in seat belt/car seat use, driving with excessive speeds and alcohol impaired driving in the study.
Of the more than 32,000 people killed each year in U.S. motor vehicle crashes, one in three involved drunken driving, according to the CDC report.
Last year, 164 people died nationwide in crashes that involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol percentage of 0.08 or higher, the level at which intoxication is presumed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Patrick Hoye, of the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, said locally, alcohol consumption remains one of the biggest factors in traffic fatalities. Distracted and drowsy driving also contribute to traffic deaths, he said.
A total of 320 traffic fatalities occurred in Iowa last year, one of the lowest totals on record, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
However, Iowa has seen a nearly 41 percent increase in traffic fatalities so far this year compared to 2015, according to DOT data.
There have been 186 traffic deaths statewide as of July 5, compared to 132 fatalities in the same time last year. More than 42 percent of those fatalities occurred with individuals who were not wearing their seat belts, according to state data.
There have been six fatalities already this month, all six from a pair of Eastern Iowa crashes.
'It is certainly for us a very alarming trend,” Hoye told The Gazette last week. 'We're really trying to take a look at all of the crash data that's coming in and trying to figure out how we can go about reversing that horrible number.”
Hoye said a statewide task force - with traffic experts, advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement officials - is meeting and aims to present recommendations later this summer.