Law enforcement bracing for holiday weekend as traffic fatalities rise

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(ABC 6 News) – We are at the start of a special enforcement on the roads as we wrap up the ‘100 deadliest days of summer.’

Summer started off as the deadliest in more than a decade in Minnesota, with nearly 50 people dying in the first 25 days according to the state’s Dept. of Public Safety.

Now, as summer comes to a close, law enforcement in the area does not want it to end the way it began.

Hundreds of lives ending abruptly due to poor decision making from other drivers.

Iowa roads are more dangerous and deadly than ever. About 250 people have died this year in car crashes.

“Traffic fatalities are out of control,” said Iowa State Patrol Trooper Tom Williams. “The impaired driving, the speeds, not wearing your seat belt, not focusing on the road, texting and driving, running stop signs. That’s why people are dying.”

It’s a five year high according to Trooper Williams. He says if this trend continues, the death toll will rise to more than 400 fatalities by the end of the year.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Trooper Williams.

While some drivers say certain roads seem safe, they have noticed driving behaviors that make them weary.

“Cars have so much speed and capability that some people think they’re at the raceway up in Brainerd. You’re on an interstate so act like it and grow up,” said Jeff DeVaney. “There are more drivers and unfortunately, there are people who don’t use good sensibility. They drink or there are all these states that legalized marijuana, so that compounds things quite a bit.”

This summer in Austin, a man police say was driving drunk caused a serious accident.

The driver of the other car was 16-year-old Wyatt Hamlin.

RELATED: Austin teen severely injured after two-vehicle crash involving alleged drunk driver; 1 arrested

The teen was critically injured and remains in the hospital more than a month later.

“I’m glad we were able to locate the driver, I’m glad we were able to treat people at the scene and certainly we are pulling for that young man and his family,” said Austin Police Chief David McKichan.

Throughout these 100 deadliest days, more than 220 impaired drivers have been arrested between the Mower County Sheriff’s Office and APD, according to Chief McKichan.

“Somewhere within that 224 number are young people who were not hit by a drunk driver,” said Chief McKichan. “Parents who didn’t lose children, children who didn’t lose parents.”

Throughout this next weekend, law enforcement agencies are coming together with extra patrols to keep people safe.

There are a number of ways to get a safe ride this weekend. Try to arrange a sober ride ahead of time or use one of the many rideshare apps to find a way home.

Officers say always slow down and buckle up.