Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 17-23 reminds drivers to keep young ones safe, offers free safety checks

 

Keeping children safe on the road means putting them in the right safety restraint at the right age.

That’s the message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) during National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 17–23. See Governor’s Proclamation.

Motor-vehicle traffic crashes are a leading killer of children, but properly used child-safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (under 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old).

“From 2011 to 2015, 12 children under the age of seven that were killed in Idaho passenger-vehicle crashes were unrestrained,” said Sherry Jenkins, with ITD’s Office of Highway Safety. “Those kids would likely have survived, or had a much better chance, had they been properly buckled up.”

Idaho has more than 260 certified child passenger safety technicians committed to educating parents and caregivers about the best ways to keep kids safe while traveling in cars, no matter how short or long the trip.

To help parents and caregivers in Idaho select the right car seats for their children, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will hold free car seat-check events. Call to make an appointment for any of the following events:

Wednesday, Sept. 20, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Walmart, 2470 Pullman Road, Moscow (no appointment necessary)
Friday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Nell Redfield-Oneida County Facility, 150 N. 300 W. 208 766-5368.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Shoshone Medical Health and Wellness, 858 Commerce Drive, Smelterville, 208 625-4642.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., St. Luke’s Nampa Medical Center, 9850 W. St. Luke’s Drive, 208 870-3493

Motor-vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1 to 13. Jenkins said using age- and size-appropriate child restraints are the best way to reduce these deaths

“Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are often used incorrectly, but no parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to his or her child’s safety,” said Jenkins. “That’s why we’re hosting these consumer-education events during National Child Passenger Safety Week. Parents can know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car.”

“When children under seven years old grow out of car seats, their greatest risk is not being placed in booster seats,” Jenkins added. “Booster seats can save lives and are as important as any of the other restraints. And, they’re available for as little as $20.”

Child Passenger Safety Week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers the importance of correctly installing and using car seats, booster seats and seat belts. It is important to register car seats with the manufacturer so parents can be notified in the event of a recall.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. After outgrowing car seats, children should be placed in booster seats until they are big enough to fit seat belts properly without help from a booster seat.

The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat of the car.

For more information on child car safety, go to safercar.gov or http://itd.idaho.gov/ohs/ChildSafety/index.html

Eagle’s Salmon rescue, response to POE car fire show ITD concern for public safety

A few recent incidents highlight the safety role of Idaho Transportation Department workers in their everyday jobs, serving the citizens of Idaho. Here are a few of those stories:

Eagle’s Salmon rescue sheds light on fire-extinguisher checks

Like cellphones, or most of us after a few late nights in a row, fire extinguishers need to be recharged periodically to be at their full potential. That was never more evident than the morning of August 7, as ITD Salmon Maintenance Foreman Jeff Eagle raced to an overturned vehicle on US-93 and a young girl screaming for help inside.

He was her only hope at the moment, but even as he ran, he had to wonder if his fire extinguisher would even work.

On that Tuesday morning, Jeff started the day thinking about a sign installation. On his way back to Salmon, however, he glanced in his rear view mirror and witnessed a car over-correcting as it went off the road a few hundred feet behind him. The car came back across the roadway, but luckily there was no oncoming traffic. The car rolled.

“It was the most violent vehicle rollover I have ever witnessed,” said Eagle. “It went airborne and rolled at least 5 or 6 times and landed on its side against a landowner’s fence in an irrigation ditch.”

Eagle stopped and turned around to help. As the first one on the scene, he called StateComm and asked for an ambulance and sheriff to assist.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when I ran to the vehicle. When I came upon the car, it was severely damaged and crushed. I couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was. What I saw next was horrifying. There was a young girl pinned under the rear axle of the car. She was awake but screaming. I tried to comfort her as well as I could.”

He then realized the engine was still running.

“I couldn’t believe there was still an engine left in the car. I had to shut the engine off before it caught fire. There was no one else involved in the wreck, so I tried to get my arm through the car window to shut off the engine. It was difficult and the key was bent, so my first attempt failed.”

With his adrenaline kicked in, the second attempt to turn the engine off was successful. “I was able to turn the key just enough to shut it off,” Eagle explained.

“I was somewhat relieved, but also knew it could still catch on fire from the hot engine. Then the second thought hit me.’ I HAVE NEVER CHECKED THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN MY ITD PICKUP TO SEE IF IT WAS STILL CHARGED.'”

“What would I have been able to do if the car would have caught on fire with that young girl pinned under it? Fortunately, it did not and my fire extinguisher was charged. What a break.”

“We have always been fairly good about checking the fire extinguishers in the buildings, but we need to be more diligent in checking the ones in the equipment and other vehicles in case we are put into this circumstance while doing our jobs.”

District 6 Safety Compliance Officer Ron Butler explained that fire extinguishers are checked annually and tested as needed. This year, we found six trucks, three loaders, and several pickups or cars with fire extinguishers that needed to be recharged. They had not been used, but had leaked off anyway.

“We try to get to all vehicles and buildings, but often miss a few because they are out on job sites, so check your extinguishers and if they don’t have a 2017 tag on them, change them out so you know you have a good working unit,” he added.

Eagle concurs.

“It only takes a minute. It would not hurt to have a fire extinguisher in our personal vehicles also,” he said.

Note: Eagle said the girl didn’t have to be Life Flighted from the scene, thank goodness!

 

East & West Boise POE inspectors help tame car fire Aug. 2          

ITD Port of Entry inspectors from the East and West Boise facilities collaborated to put out a car fire at the port on Aug. 2, with help from a couple of truck drivers.

Inspector Kyle Perkins spotted a car on fire from the shoulder of Interstate 84 just past the East Boise Port of Entry, and alerted Port of Entry inspectors on the westbound side. Devin Dascenzo, April Jordan, and Jeff Butler. Inspector Scott Conrad was already in route to the car fire from the east port.

Dascenzo and Butler grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran up the westbound ramp to the car fire, while April closed down the westbound port. By the time Devin and Jeff arrived, Conrad had already exhausted a pair of fire extinguishers from the port car. Two truck drivers stopped and added their own fire extinguishers to help tame the blaze.

Jeff and Devin sat up cones to keep interstate traffic away from the shoulder without closing down a lane of traffic, and then helped the driver gather as many of his personal items from the car as possible. Once fire responders left the scene, port personnel made sure a tow truck was in route.

The quick reaction helped prevent injury to the driver, stopped a potential wildfire and kept traffic safely moving.

 

Ah Yee’s parking premonition proves prophetic          

An observant employee’s decision to park a truck in mid-June kept north Idaho drivers safe.

Chance Ah Yee, an ITD Port of Entry Inspector at the Huetter POE, noticed that a driver was slow in his response to questions. The driver was having real difficulty. Chance became concerned.

The driver said that he had been sick for the past week and was feeling fatigued. To protect the traveling public and the driver, Chance ordered the driver to park his rig.

A month later the driver contacted the Huetter Port of Entry to thank Chance. The driver had suffered a stroke just one day after Ah Yee ordered the truck parked.

“Chance did a great job of sensing something was wrong and using his discretion to prevent a potential accident,” said ITD Compliance Manager Reymundo Rodriguez.

Safety is a top concern for ITD – here are a few examples:

Idaho is home to a lot of rural roadways that present some unique safety challenges. Here are a few recent initiatives from ITD to improve public safety on those routes:

SPOTLIGHTING DANGEROUS CURVES
If you ever played a driving video game, then you’ve seen the big flashing arrows that warn you when a curve is coming up and which way to turn. You’re not very likely to run into the wall, but follow directional arrows around the curve and go for the finish line.

Big electronic flashing arrows might be effective in a fast-paced game, but would not be very efficient on some of Idaho’s rural highways.

Here’s the rest of the story

RURAL INTERSECTION CONFLICT WARNING SYSTEM
Rural highway intersections can be hazardous if drivers are not aware of upcoming stops and free-flowing traffic crossing their paths. Here’s a lower-cost system to help save lives.

Here’s the rest of the story

 

Public can vote for Idaho’s Thornton Interchange project for national honor and $10k charity prize

The Idaho Transportation Department project to rebuild the Thornton Interchange is a national finalist in the “People’s Choice” category of the America’s Transportation Awards (ATA).

Public voting is open and continuing through Sept. 21 online at www.AmericasTransportationAwards.org.

The project previously won ATA regional honors in late June. Idaho’s Thornton project was selected by the judges to move on to The People’s Choice award (and/or Grand Prize) and a shot at $10,000 in prize money. The prize money will be donated to a charity or scholarship program chosen by the winning state department of transportation. The winner will be announced Sept. 27 in Phoenix.

The awards are a joint effort of AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This shows that the Idaho Transportation Department is being recognized as one of the best transportation departments in the country, and ultimately this excellence benefits all of Idaho’s drivers,” said ITD Eastern Idaho District Engineer Jason Minzghor.

“The Thornton project will greatly enhance safety and mobility in eastern Idaho area, and most importantly, saves lives.”

The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg marked the culmination of more than a decade of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built in a 34-mile stretch of U.S. 20 between Idaho Falls and Sugar City to improve access management and traffic flow for greater highway safety and mobility.

Watch the video of the Thornton project below.

Despite traffic volumes more than doubling, these improvements drastically decreased serious-injury crashes and fatalities. In addition, several money-saving innovations and technological advances saved at least $450,000.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring them to use automated grade control during construction shortened the required construction time and reduced the impact to traffic through the busiest part of the summer,” said ITD District 6 Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

This marks the fourth Idaho project to advance to the national People’s Choice stage of the America’s Transportation Awards since 2013.

 

ITD offers back-to-school safety tips for kids, parents, and drivers

The Idaho Transportation Department is committed to safety for all members of the public — even for the smaller, younger members of our communities. Most school zones have been vacant for the past few months – but that’s all changing. Here are some back-to-school safety tips from ITD:

SCHOOL SAFETY: Return to school requires renewed safety focus

SCHOOL SAFETY: Children, drivers should follow bus-safety guidelines

SCHOOL SAFETY: Make sure vehicle is road ready before handing keys to teen drivers

SCHOOL SAFETY: School zones require reduced speeds, increased awareness

SCHOOL SAFETY: Parents should prepare children before walks to school

Please, drivers: Celebrate eclipse, don’t add impairment to the mix

Summer is winding down, but with the Great American Eclipse and Labor Day weekend just around the corner, Idaho’s summer travel season should be busy to the very end. Sadly, both events have the potential to become tragic, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on Idaho’s roadways.

In an effort to reduce drunk driving crashes and to save lives, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies across Idaho for a high-visibility mobilization.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, begins this week and runs through the Labor Day weekend holiday. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving.

“Our goal is to have zero traffic-related deaths in Idaho,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety. “Seeing more officers on the roads during this busy time of year will serve as a reminder to drivers that we all need to do our part to keep our roads safe.”

According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015 – approximately one person died every 51 minutes as a result of drunk driving. During the mobilization, officers will have a zero-tolerance stance on drunk driving.

“Between the eclipse and Labor Day, we expect to see more people out enjoying the last few weekends of summer,” Corder said. “We want people to enjoy these events safely – if you plan to drink, use a designated driver, call a taxi, use a ride sharing app or call a friend or family member. There’s no reason to get behind the wheel if you choose to drink.”

ITD and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Idaho Highway Safety Manager, John Tomlinson. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, from the Eclipse through the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses,” he said.

ITD making plans for a safe and enjoyable eclipse Aug. 21

In three weeks, thousands of people from around the world are expected to hit the road in Idaho to see the Great American Eclipse. As Idahoans and visitors make their way toward their viewing destination, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) reminds drivers there are a few things to keep in mind to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Before, during and after the event, the department will maintain normal traffic patterns and will NOT change any lane directions – for example, lanes that are typically northbound will remain northbound throughout the eclipse weekend.

Traffic is expected to increase around prime viewing areas in the path of totality. ITD is taking steps to keep traffic moving in those areas during the eclipse – construction and maintenance projects will be suspended where possible, response teams will be deployed to assist disabled vehicles, and digital message boards provide drivers with traffic information.

Rest areas will remain open to the public but overnight camping will not be allowed. Drivers are also asked not to park on the roadway, shoulders, or emergency turnouts during the eclipse.

Heavy congestion and delays are expected in the days around the eclipse – please be patient — for the latest road conditions, visit 511.idaho.gov.

Fire season closing south-central Idaho roads

wildfire damaged sign

It’s been a busy couple weeks; fire season is officially here. It started as soon as a human-caused fire closed Interstate 84 near Glenns Ferry on June 5. As soon as winter snows melted and spring floods subsided, summer dryness hit the lowlands.

The past two weeks has seen a series of small brush fires grow out of control and close several routes throughout southern Idaho – I-84 near the Utah border for several hours, U.S. 26 on two occasions between Bliss and Shoshone, Idaho Highway 75 north of Shoshone, as well as U.S. 93 and Idaho Highway 24 near Shoshone.

Truck coated in retardant
This ITD truck, used to close U.S. 93 at the south entrance to Shoshone during the Antelope Fire on July 10, got coated in fire retardant by an aerial tanker.

The latest, the Antelope Fire, started last Sunday around 6:30 p.m. It originally started off U.S. 26, between Shoshone and Gooding, following a lightning strike in the sagebrush desert of western Lincoln County. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resources struggled to gain control through the night, due to high winds and high temperatures. The fire jumped U.S. 26 several times.

Around 10 a.m. Monday, the south side of the fire kicked up and made a push on Shoshone.

“The winds were burning at approximately 25 mph, with even higher gusts,” said BLM Fire Information Officer Kelsey Brizendine. “This caused the fire to make a push at 93, which, thanks to our great partners at ITD, was closed down. This closure remained in effect for several hours, giving firefighters the space they needed, as well as keeping the public safe.”

The Antelope Fire closed U.S. 93 just before noon, pushed across the highway, closed Idaho 24 at about 1 p.m. and threatened buildings near Shoshone. The fire was all but out on Tuesday morning, but ended up at burning about 29,493 acres.

“This is going to be a busy year,” Brizendine added. “The fuel is thick, dry and the wind makes things hard.”

Many areas of Idaho are already under high fire danger due to fuel loads and dry conditions. Many of the initial fires that have affected southern Idaho highways have been human caused — only the Antelope Fire was from lightning, giving extra importance to the impact residents and road users have on the travel and public safety.

The BLM reminds the public that whether you are recreating or traveling on the highways or back roads, keep fire prevention in mind and follow these fire prevention tips:

On the road:
· Keep tires properly inflated.
· Grease your wheel bearings.
· Tie up trailer safety chains.
· Do not drive or park in tall, dry grass.

At the campground:
· Have a shovel, bucket, and water nearby.
· Make sure your campfire is completely out. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

Target Shooting:
· Check weather conditions. Hot + Dry + Wind = Quick-Spreading Wildfires
· Choose a shooting area that is clear of dry grass/vegetation and rocks.
· Always bring water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel.
· Discharging a firearm using incendiary, steel core or tracer ammunition is prohibited on BLM lands from May to October 20.
· Burning, igniting or causing to burn explosive material, including exploding targets is prohibited on BLM lands from May to October 20.

Amy Schroeder selected to head up next GARVEE program

Amy Schroeder, manager of the recent award-winning, $857 million Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Program, will return to lead the next round of GARVEE bonding approved by the Idaho Legislature during their recent 2017 session.

The legislature approved up to $300 million in bonding this time around. The first piece is the I-84 expansion between the Franklin Blvd. and Karcher Interchange in Nampa.

The original GARVEE program wrapped up in 2015, after a decade of investment in the state’s roads and bridges unprecedented in scope since the interstate system was built through Idaho in the 1960s. GARVEE allowed Idaho to invest in highway improvement projects in six corridors throughout the state, starting in 2006.

The 59 GARVEE projects were delivered without any delay to the regular construction program.

GARVEE projects also were delivered at an accelerated pace and at lower costs than anticipated. Funding the necessary improvements would have taken 30 years under the existing pay-as-you-go method. This enabled motorists to use the roads and bridges earlier and enhanced the state’s commerce and commercial transportation.

Schroeder has been with ITD’s District 3 office serving the 10 southwest Idaho counties as the Engineering Manager since 2011. She will be leaving D3 and returning to ITD Headquarters to manage the program. The transition period has yet to be decided. Schroeder will continue to work closely with D3 on Interstate 84 work, and possibly other district priorities, depending upon what the Idaho Transportation Board decides to do with the remaining bonding authority.

“I’m honored to be selected and get to work addressing needs in critical corridors,” Schroeder said.

“The initial GARVEE Program showed the traveling public that the department can and will deliver on its commitments. The success of GARVEE also translated into a level of trust within the legislature, and that was the catalyst for the additional bonding authority,” she added.

“Amy is very experienced in complex projects and with the demands of the GARVEE program,” said ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes. “Her experience fits perfectly with what the state of Idaho needs to deliver projects quickly on this high-profile program.”

“Amy is also very experienced in finding innovations and solutions that are unique that help ITD, not only in the GARVEE program, but also statewide in other projects and districts,” he added.

“Like most ITD projects, success will involve a team effort with unified vision. Amy can find and unify the resources needed for this challenging program to be successful.“

Memorial Day Weekend Marks Beginning of 100 Deadliest Days

BOISE – The Memorial Day weekend is almost here marking the unofficial start of summer. The holiday weekend brings along with it backyard cookouts and camping trips – it also marks the beginning of the deadliest time on Idaho’s roads.

The time between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are often referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days.”  It is a time of year when deadly crashes tend to spike.

“The weather is nicer and the days are longer and more people are out on the roads,” said Josephine Middleton from the Idaho Transportation Department Office of Highway Safety.

In 2016 there were 252 people killed on Idaho’s roads – 85 of those crashes happened between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.

“It seems that sometimes people let their guard down because of the nicer driving conditions and they aren’t as cautious as they could be,” Middleton added. “We receive reports of impaired, aggressive and distracted driving crashes every summer – these crashes can don’t have to happen.”

ITD and its highway safety partners have several mobilizations planned for the summer months. These efforts are designed to enforce traffic safety laws and educate the public. During the summer these mobilizations will focus on seatbelt usage and impaired driving.

“Our partnerships with law enforcement are so important to us,” Middleton said, “but so is our partnership with each and every Idahoan who gets inside a car. We can all do little things to make our roads safer – be patient, get a designated driver, put away the distractions and buckle up and we can all get to our destinations safely this summer.”

In addition to an increase in cars on the roads, motorists also need to keep their eye out for other road users as motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians take advantage of the summer weather to get out of their cars.