Traffic fatalities up across the country

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MASON CITY, Iowa – Point A to point B. Most people get from one place to another by driving. But it might not always be a very safe ride.

“It’s kind of scary being out on the roads when you see people that are talking on the phone or doing other things or texting,” Fertile resident Pam Stecker said. “Especially when you’re on the interstate and somebody passes you and they’re texting as they’re driving and at that high rate of speed it’s kind of scary.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are almost 18,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. this year. That’s up more than 10 percent from this time last year, and the majority of them are being blamed on human error.

“Most of the human error obviously comes with the distracted driving, not paying attention, use of cell phones and other technology,” Iowa State Patrol Trooper Tom Williams said.

In Iowa it’s even higher. Fatalities are up 15 percent from this time last year. Williams says part of the problem is trying to bust people for texting and driving.

“Unfortunately Iowa is still one of five states in the United States that does not have a primary texting law,” he said. “It’s still a secondary offense for those over 18 years old.”

Stecker says she doesn’t text and drive, but still is scared out on roads because of the others that are out there.

“Recently I have had a lot of people pull out in front of me at unsafe distances,” she said. “I think people are focused on what they have to do or if they’re in a hurry so a lot of people tailgate and they just ride right up on you and it is scary.”

Williams says another issue is that there aren’t as many troopers on the roads right now, which is a problem they are trying to fix. He also says fall is a bad time because of farming equipment and more deer on the roads.

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