Iowa traffic deaths down

Even with a huge number of holiday traffic related deaths ... approximately 23 before the new year ... things look pretty good for Iowa drivers.

Preliminary figures show 359 people died on Iowa's roadways in 2011, the lowest death toll since 1944.

The Gazette

in Cedar Rapids, Iowa says the state transportation department says the numbers might not be finalized until February, but the decrease mirrors a national trend.

Traffic safety and crash data engineer Michael Pawlovich says the drop points toward the positive effects of several factors, including increased seat-belt usage, improved vehicle and roadway designs and law changes dealing with drunken driving and texting.

Pawlovich says yearly highway deaths have been below 400 in Iowa for the past three years.

There were 390 fatalities in 2010.