Local agencies will participate in special traffic enforcement program

Local law enforcement agencies will be having a bigger presence this weekend to check if drivers are obeying the law.

The Special Traffic Enforcement Program, put on by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, will be held today through Sunday.

The Fort Dodge Police Department is one of several agencies participating in this weekend’s sTEP.

“There are different periods where law enforcement does these enforcement projects,” Assistant Police Chief Kevin Doty said. “This time they’re drawing attention to the fact that it’s St. Patrick’s Day.”

Doty said officers will be on the lookout for not only impaired drivers, but also violations such as not wearing seatbelts, driving with suspended licenses, and speeding.

“We would like to have the number of traffic crashes be a record low every year,” he said.

He added that the sTEP is primarily about raising awareness among drivers.

“We just want people to be aware of their surroundings,” Doty said. “You need to follow the rules. If you’re sitting in your car and not paying attention to your surroundings, the chances increase for an accident.”

According to a press release from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, a sTEP was held during last year’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend. More than 234 law enforcement agencies reported 16,279 traffic violations.

Doty said he believes programs like sTEP are effective in preventing accidents.

“The data shows that statewide, law enforcement are making a lot of contacts,” he said. “We are having conversations with these drivers, trying to get them change their behavior.”

He said the contact with drivers helps with sTEP’s goal, which is to get drivers to change their behavior to reduce crashes and accidents.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau has another sTEP scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.