Iowans Will See More State Patrol Cars On Roads - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Iowans Will See More State Patrol Cars On Roads

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You could soon start seeing more state patrol cars on Iowa roads. It's not because of hiring more troopers. Instead, many of the state's unmarked cars will be outfitted with logos and light bars. The goal is that increased visibility will lead to increased safety.

The new Iowa Department of Public Safety commissioner plans to increase that visibility on the state's most traveled roads. Out of 70 previously unmarked cruisers about half of them will transition to being clearly identifiable. The order is aimed to get more compliance with things like speeding, seat belts, and following too closely.

"There's no cars passing me because they're all behind me, they adapt driving behavior because they see me here," said Sergeant Jose Varela with the Iowa State Patrol District 12.

Unmarked squads blend in more and are used to catch things like aggressive driving. District twelve had four unmarked cars, now two of them now have the ISP logo and light bar. "It's going to put a few more cars out on the road and have some ability to have people adapt their driving habits and hopefully that will be a little bit safer for everybody," added Sgt. Varela.

He says studies show drivers adjust their behavior behind the wheel for the next nine miles or so after seeing law enforcement, which Varela says is better than not at all and could help cut down on accidents. Plus, marked squads can be safer for law enforcement as cars are now getting more reflectors and markings on the back than there were several years ago.

"When you're coming up behind a squad car it should be even more visible."

Compliance is better for things like seat belt use, but officers say more improvement will help save lives. In 2011 there were 364 traffic related fatalities in Iowa, compared to a decade before that when there were nearly 450 deaths from crashes.