Traffic & Transportation

1 month into summer, Idaho’s fatal crashes on pace to match 2015

Idaho Transportation Department aims for zero highway deaths

As of June 28, 2016, at least 34 people had died since Memorial Day on Idaho roads. ITD is attempting to draw more public attention to traffic safety and especially, fatal crashes.
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As of June 28, 2016, at least 34 people had died since Memorial Day on Idaho roads. ITD is attempting to draw more public attention to traffic safety and especially, fatal crashes.

Idaho state troopers say they’re seeing drivers be more reckless lately. They’re seeing drivers without patience, with too much aggression, with too little experience.

All of that is anecdotal. But the numbers aren’t: Idaho State Police have investigated 19 fatal crashes statewide since Memorial Day weekend. Add in other agencies’ numbers and that tally reaches 34 deaths, according to the Idaho Transportation Department’s exceedingly preliminary figures Tuesday.

Last year, according to ITD, 86 people died on Idaho roads and highways during the summer.

In one month, this summer has accounted for one-third of that total.

Across the state, law enforcement and highway officials each year draw attention to the “100 deadliest days” — from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the most common time of year for fatal crashes.

Formal statistics for this summer are still being gathered. But troopers were concerned enough about what they’re seeing to voice their worries to ISP spokeswoman Teresa Baker, she said.

“(People aren’t) driving smart,” she said. “They’re speeding, they’re driving aggressively, they don’t have any patience when there is a crash, which then causes more crashes.”

Recent deaths have included Kevin Guth, 52, who was southbound on Idaho 55 near Horseshoe Bend on Sunday when he crossed the center line and his motorcycle hit a Chrysler minivan.

The crash blocked the highway for nearly four hours. In the middle of that, Baker said, someone apparently got out of their car and rode a skateboard through the crash scene, curious about what was going on.

She asked for the public to have patience during crash investigations, adding that ISP will make an added effort to have information about crashes up quickly on social media.

Baker advises travelers be prepared for possible crash-related delays on Idaho highways. Travel with water and snacks, think ahead about ways to keep cool, and make sure you have enough gas.

“We just need people to be more respectful to other motorists,” Baker said. “It might be your family member that’s in the crash.”

Nate Poppino: 208-377-6481, @npoppino

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