While city streets and county roads are seeing less traffic in recent weeks, the same is also true of Iowa’s interstates.
Fewer vehicles on the highways have also translated into fewer traffic arrests and accidents.
“There is noticeably less traffic,” said Iowa State Patrol trooper Dan Loussaert, who resides in Park View. “Some roads are down probably more than 50 percent, and other roads are down a little less than 50 percent.
“It’s especially different at certain times of the day when there are less people out and about.”
Loussaert said he just received a report that the number of accidents and arrests were down a little, but that the number of actual traffic stops was down significantly.
“For the most part, we’re trying to be more visible,” he said. “Hopefully, when somebody sees us, if they’re doing something wrong, they fix the problem. If it’s a serious violation, then we’re taking action just like normal.”
Loussaert did say, however, that travelers are driving faster, and that there was a small increase in the number of drunk drivers.
For the most part, Loussaert said it has been business as usual for state troopers, and that the pandemic hasn’t changed the way that they approach their job.
“We aren’t doing much differently,” he said. “Sometimes we would have people come back to the patrol car because it’s easer to have them sign a ticket, or a warning or explain things,” he said. “You’d also have the safety of the patrol car, but we aren’t doing that as much anymore,
“Normally, when you’re on a traffic stop, they are inside the vehicle and we’re outside, and while we may not be a full six feet apart, we aren’t all that close.
“Really, as a police officer, part of our training for our own safety is that you don’t want somebody in your personal space,” he continued, “so very seldom is somebody much closer than six feet away from us.”
Loussaert did say that all officers have a supply of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), and if they have to transport people, or are working an accident scene or serving a warrant, it’s up to the trooper’s discretion as to whether or not they utilize it.
“If it’s going to be an ongoing situation, we have protective gear that we can put on, and then put our duty belt on over the top,” he said.
Loussaert also said that no state trooper has tested positive for the virus, or has displayed symptoms. Still, the department is being cautious.
“We have postponed all of our training where we would have larger groups of officers together, just in case somebody is contagious and they don’t know it,” he said.
Like all residents, Loussaert is hoping that things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.
“Right now, we’re probably not as proactive as we’ve been in the past,” he said. “We do have to get back to that at some point. There are some people that need to be addressed, who aren’t being addressed, and that’s probably a safety issue for all the other citizens of Iowa.
“Hopefully we’ll get through this very quickly.”