As Iowans begin to set off on their holiday travel excursions, grim news comes from state law enforcement officials that traffic deaths in Iowa have already surpassed the annual "goal" of keeping those numbers below 300.

It's weird to call something like this a "goal" so I am going to call it a "quota". Technically, that "goal" is always zero but work with me here. According to KCRG:

Through Friday, Nov. 18, 302 people were killed in traffic incidents, which is higher than the five-year average to date of 289. However, it is 10 fewer fatalities than 2021 recorded through the same date.

As of this writing, that number has increased by 1, to 303. Iowa has seen a slow and steady increase in traffic fatalities since 2018 when the year's total was 319. If there's good news it's that we're doing much better than we were in the '80s and '90s. The largest number of yearly traffic incidents on Iowa roadways goes back to 1970 when there were a staggering 912.

According to statistics, about 75 percent of traffic fatalities occur in rural areas, and 44 percent occur as a result of the victims not wearing seat belts. Speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and failure to fasten those seat belts are the most common fatal factors.

If you're among those heading "over the river, and through the woods" or across the interstates and gravel roads, we wish you safe travels, and please keep these statistics in mind. Also, watch for likely heightened law enforcement presence in light of these newly-released numbers.

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You can learn more about the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau and their campaign to save lives on Iowa roads here.

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