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Local agencies sTEP up their enforcement

Law enforcement will check for seat belts and other violations

November 16, 2012
By PETER KASPARI, , Messenger News

Over Thanksgiving weekend, law enforcement all over Iowa will be teaming up to keep the state's highways and roads safe for travelers.

The special Traffic Enforcement Program, an initiative by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, will be implemented from Nov. 19 to 25.

The main goal of the program is to make sure drivers are buckled up, but officers will also be looking for drunk drivers.

This year is the first time the Webster County Sheriff's Department will be taking part in sTEP.

Chief Deputy Jim Stubbs said the department decided to participate because they wanted to make the roads safe.

"I think it's a very worthwhile project," Stubbs said. "It's geared towards changing driving habits and raising awareness of seat belt issues and safe driving."

Stubbs said sTEP is a way for law enforcement to be proactive in preventing driving incidents.

"It's not just a matter of issuing citations," he said. "We're trying to educate drivers on safe driving. If we can change some driving habits and make the roads of Webster County safer, we've accomplished what we set out to do."

Participating in sTEP can also help out law enforcement, according to Stubbs.

"Through this program, we can receive either equipment or money for overtime," he said. "We're going with overtime because we already had a big grant for equipment last year. Overtime allows our deputies to provide more manpower to help the public."

The Iowa State Patrol and Fort Dodge Police Department are also participating in this year's sTEP. Both agencies have taken part in the past.

Assistant Police Chief Kevin Doty said it's important to make sure everyone wears a seat belt.

"Daytime use of seat belts in Iowa is much better than at night," he said. "At night time is when there's more risk of being hurt."

Doty said seat belt use is important because if there's a car accident, it can prevent people in vehicles from being ejected.

"The seat belt saves lives," he said. "The injuries in many crashes aren't as serious when people wear seat belts."

He added this program will also be about raising awareness.

"If you're out drinking, have a designated driver," he said. "If you're not drinking, or if you're a passenger, be aware of what the driver is doing. If the driver drank to the point where they can't function like they should, call a cab or drive for them if you're able to. If there's danger there of an accident, finding another way home is sometimes the best option."

Doty believes initiatives like sTEP have been successful at raising awareness.

"If you get stopped and are cited, chances are next time you get in the car, you'll think twice," he said. "That's what we want people to ultimately do; drive within the speed limit and obey the traffic laws that are there."



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