Highway 75 by Le Mars

Traffic flows along U.S. Highway 75 near Le Mars, Iowa, in an April 2014 photo. Plymouth County is one of five counties in Iowa state authorities have selected for a new program aimed at cracking down on impaired and making rural roads safer with concerted patrolling of law enforcement.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | There will be increased actions over the next year to catch impaired drivers in Plymouth County.

The Northwest Iowa county is one of five in Iowa with concerted patrolling and other means to make rural roads safer.

On Oct. 1, the state picked the counties for a new initiative called the High Five Rural Traffic Safety Program. The goal by the Iowa State Patrol and other state agencies is to knock down the number of fatal crashes on secondary rural roads.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper John Farley, based in Cherokee, said 74 percent of fatal crashes occur on secondary rural roads.

High Five is the vision of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. After analyzing 10 years of crash data and impaired drivers information, five rural counties in the state were picked to participate in this project. The other in western Iowa is Carroll County.

"Through enforcement, media and community outreach, participating agencies will work to educate drivers on the benefits of complying with traffic laws, especially Iowa’s impaired driving law. From an engineering aspect, the focus will be to identify low-cost improvements throughout the county to make the roadways safer," Farley said in a release.

During 2016, there were 404 fatalities in the state.

Rural roads are shared by a variety of vehicle types, including not only passenger vehicles but also large machinery and other farm implement traveling at slower speeds.

Farley is seeking to increase awareness about High Five through various outreach methods. Some flyers placed in Plymouth County note a lot of Iowa fatalities involve only one vehicle.

"We are driving too fast, not paying attention, driving impaired, not wearing our seat belts and we are paying a very high price for these actions. Make life a priority. Choose to be safe," the flyer reads in part.

The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Mike Van Otterloo and the Plymouth County Engineer will be working in concert with the state patrol on ways to make the county safer.

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County and education reporter

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