Iowa Highways Are Like the Wild, Wild West [OPINION]
I drive about two hours a day. I take I-380, and I am very guilty of driving fast. I'm as bad as anyone I describe in this opinion piece. Well, mostly. This article is not designed to be a slam on anyone. Not Iowa drivers as a whole, certainly not law enforcement. Simply, it's my opinion. After the Iowa State Patrol said we as a state of drivers have missed the mark in 2021 on safety, I feel compelled to share my thoughts.
Iowa highways: the wild, wild west
There are a number of things I both observe, and don't observe while frequenting our interstates and highways. In my observations, it's survival of the fittest with vehicles, often including semi's, traveling at far, far higher rates of speed than the posted limit. In the case of I-380, many appear to be going between 85-90 MPH.
I admit I'm usually going around 80. Another thing I see daily, lane changes with no signaling, fast, aggressive lane changes, and drives constantly veering off the road into the rumble strips. Obviously, these are distracted motorists either focused on their phones or perhaps dealing with kids or a passenger.
While you could argue the above are fairly minor, let me tell you what I don't see while driving: Law enforcement. Many Iowa cities rely on lazy traffic cameras to handle speeders. That's fine, but no such thing exists on the interstates or highways outside of a larger city. As a Minnesota boy, I always grew up seeing (lots) of state patrol on the roads. In town, out of town.
Speed traps were common, and seldom was there a large stretch of road without at least one state patrol vehicle. Ditto for my time working in Wisconsin. Dare I say it was worse there. I was in Kansas City last week and, once I crossed into Missouri, I drove by numerous state patrol camped out in the median on I-35. You just don't see that here in Iowa. Unless it's announced speed crackdown. In which case, why announce in advance. Show up, and make people think this will be a routine.
I'm not saying we need a 180
I'm by no means pushing for tons of speed traps. I also think if the weather is good, the 70 MPH speed limit is too slow. So, I simply sharing observations. I would like to see some state patrol on our roads though. After all, we all need a reminder from time to time to turn our brains back on while driving and pay a little more attention.
Stay safe out there.
See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State
Storybook Cottage in Des Moines