DES MOINES — Iowa law enforcement officers are launching a special traffic enforcement program as we approach the holiday weekend.

Iowa State Patrol public resource officer Paul Gardner says this Independence Day is expected to break travel records, so the roads will be very busy.  Gardner says, “We will be out watching for drunk drivers and working the roads hard to make sure everyone’s obeying the speed limit, everyone’s buckled in, people aren’t distracted by a cell phone while they’re driving.”

These weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day are often considered the most dangerous of the year on highways in Iowa and nationwide.  “We’re in the middle of our ‘100 Deadliest Days’ when our crashes are starting to be on the rise,” Gardner says. “Typically, the cause of these crashes are impaired or drunk driving, so we’re going to be out on the roads, watching to make sure everyone’s sober and getting to where they need to go safely.”

Those who are imbibing to celebrate the holiday need to remember not to get behind the wheel, but to instead call a cab, a friend or an Uber.  “One-third of our traffic crashes yearly are caused by drunk and impaired driving and on the 4th of July nationwide, between 2016 and 2020, 41% of crashes were caused by drunk drivers,” Gardner says, “so that’s an alarming statistic and it’s something that we aim to decrease.”

The Iowa DOT says seven people were killed in motor vehicle crashes statewide over the Fourth of July holiday last year.