Ottumwa Police work towards reducing accident fatalities

The Ottumwa Police Department will participate in a special law enforcement project aimed at reducing the number of fatalities on Iowa's roadways this Friday and Saturday.

As of August 2, 2012, there have been 202 deaths on Iowa's roads and highways, and that is 21 more fatalities than at this time last year, according to the Ottumwa Police Department.

That's why Operation "Eastern Heat" will kick off on Friday, August 10. Law enforcement agencies in the eastern third of the state will combine resources to make a push towards reducing accidents and accident fatalities.

The program uses an increase in officers and enforcement during the nighttime hours, specifically between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m., when risky driving and ultimately more accidents are most likely to happen.

"When we do these projects, we partner with the Wapello County Sheriff's Department and the Iowa State Patrol," said Sergeant Chad Farrington of the Ottumwa Police. "We do a saturation of the area, that allows us to get more officers out there and be able to make contact with these high risk drivers and then through enforcement, basically educate those drivers that what they're doing is not appropriate and increases the risk for a serious injury or fatal accident."

The biggest factors that have been determined to cause risky driving and accidents are impaired driving, seat belt and child seat violations, stop sign and stop light violations, speeding and aggressive driving. The officers can target high-risk drivers and hopefully amend their dangerous driving habits.

Enforcement programs like Operation Eastern Heat are usually done once a year. Sergeant Farrington said that, ideally, the programs will continue each year, decreasing the amount of high-risk drivers and, in turn, decrease the number of accidents.

Operation Eastern Heat is funded through a grant from the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau.