Child Passenger Safety Week reminds us to keep young ones safe

Keeping children safe on the road means making sure they are buckled up in the right seat at the right age. That’s the message for next week’s National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 23-29).

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is partnering with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind parents to properly secure their children in the right proper restraint any time they get in a car.

“Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are often used incorrectly,” said Sherry Jenkins, with ITD’s Office of Highway Safety. “No parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to his or her child’s safety. “

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

“In 2016, 3 of 4 child passengers under 7 years old killed in Idaho car crashes weren’t in car seats, booster seats, or wearing seat belts,” she said. “Those kids would have had a better chance of surviving had they been buckled up.”

“When children under 7 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.”

From 2012 to 2016, 22 children under age 7 were killed in Idaho passenger vehicle crashes. Of those, 13 were unrestrained.

Child Passenger Safety Week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly installing and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Parents also will be reminded of the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer so they 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 the 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.

NHTSA and ITD recommend keeping children in the back seat until at least age 13.  It’s the safest place for kids to ride.

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 around the state.

“These are events where parents can come out and know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car,” Jenkins said. “If you have questions at all about your car seats please attend one of these events.”

National Child Passenger Safety Week Events:
Friday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Nell J Redfield Memorial Hospital, Malad, (208) 766-5368
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at St. Luke’s Children, Nampa, (208) 381-3033
Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., at Meridian Fire Dept, Station One, Meridian,
(208) 888-1234
Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Walmart Supercenter, 2470 Pullman Road, Moscow,
(503) 523-6902

That’s why the car seat-check events are scheduled during National Child Passenger Safety Week and the month of September. Parents can come out and know for sure that their kids are as safe as possible when riding in a car.”

The Crowded Commute: when will drivers get an extra lane on Interstate 90?

Photo of construction in CDA from earlier this year.

It is the question on drivers’ minds as they continue to navigate through orange barrels and divided lanes on I-90 in CDA: when will there be more than two lanes?

The short answer: not in the immediate future, primarily due to a lack of funds.

Currently, work is progressing to reconstruct and lower the interstate through town, with preparations also underway near the Huetter Port of Entry to accommodate traffic flow and bridge maintenance next spring.

Despite appearances, neither of these projects includes the addition of a third lane.

WHY NOT?

The need is there, but the funding is not.

The latest study estimates that the expansion of I-90 to a divided, six-lane roadway from state line to 15th Street in CDA could require approximately $120 million. That estimate does not include the expansion of bridges—of which there are six—easily elevating the cost another $120 million.

Even though federal funds would spare ITD the majority of bridge replacement costs and all but 7 percent of pavement costs, that is still a significant chunk of the local  ITD district’s budget, which is set at $29 million for next year and designated for pavement work only.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution: temporary shoulders and crossovers under construction have not been built to withstand prolonged truck traffic, nor have they been approved by the interstate’s owner, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), meaning they can’t stay.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

To add a third lane to the interstate, an environmental document would have to be prepared by ITD and the public before being approved by FHWA. Environmental documents, because they can serve as the baseline for planning and development in an area for decades, require significant data and outreach to complete. Depending on the impacts, submitting an environmental document to FHWA could take as many as three years.

Ideally expansion would also be coordinated with our neighbors at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to ensure drivers could expect consistent traffic conditions through the larger corridor. At this time, WSDOT officials plan to increase efficiency on the interstate with ramp meters downtown and eventually lane and speed control all the way to the border, since there are not adequate resources or priority within existing funding to expand the route.

As the area grows, traffic demands on the entire state highway system will increase, forcing projects to compete with each other for funding. Projects currently programmed for the next seven years include the expansion of Idaho Highway 41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum, Idaho Highway 53 between state line and Rathdrum and portions of US-95 between CDA and Sandpoint.

THE BOTTOM LINE

That doesn’t mean I-90 will stay the same for the next seven years. The department does have projects in the program to maintain overpasses, to reduce rutting and to preserve existing pavement. Larger projects scheduled include the redesign of the I-90/ID-41 interchange, and depending on the success of a submitted grant application, the relocation of the Huetter Port of Entry to the west.

In the meantime, ITD will make adjustments to the corridor where possible and continue to collect the data necessary for eventual expansion, with the next study anticipated to be completed in the coming year.

 

Cycling group expresses gratitude for ITD efforts during US-12 construction

We know this summer’s construction has been less-than-convenient for many drivers, and knowing that there’s still several weeks of construction ahead, we would like to take the time to say thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Recently, the department received thanks about its efforts to support all users during construction from a local bicycling association. To read that letter, click here.

These words of gratitude mean a great deal to ITD as our project managers have worked hard to oversee these projects that will improve your safety and mobility along this corridor.

Any time we receive feedback, we try to respond or adjust our practices when possible. While planning construction this summer, we heard that this corridor was a popular bicycling destination and worked to reduce our impact. The result was a partnership with Three Rivers Rafting to offer a shuttle, which is noted in the above letter from the Adventure Cycling Association.

Once again, thank you for your patience, and please continue to reach out with any comments or concerns.

DMV driver’s license status update; plus status check on license issuance across Idaho

Sept. 10, 2018 UPDATE

Two weeks after vendor software issues halted the issuance of driver’s licenses in county DMV offices across Idaho, an interim solution is in place—with licenses being successfully processed for customers. With the system stabilized, the Idaho Transportation Department will work collaboratively with sheriffs to develop a long-term solution.

During the week of Sept. 3, statewide offices were open without interruption and the number of licenses issued increased daily. On Sept. 4, 1,724 credentials were processed. That number jumped to 2,023 on Sept. 6. While many offices saw larger volumes of customers, an ITD emergency extension for expired licenses has provided a reprieve for customers through Oct. 31, 2018.

Critical to the success of a stable system, is enhanced communication and partnership with sheriffs, county staff, law enforcement and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s office. Daily communications and updates provide coordinated information to multiple parties and has created a positive dialogue. That conversation will continue specific to the exploration of a permanent plan that alleviates service interruptions

“The collaboration between ITD, the sheriffs, county staff and Governor’s Office has been tremendous,” said ITD Division of Motor Vehicles Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “ITD again thanks every customer and our county partners for their patience as we move forward.”

To learn more about extension details, click here. To speak to a member of ITD’s DMV customer care team, please call 208.334.8736.

Sept. 7, 2018 UPDATE

  • License transactions continue to increase statewide. On Sept. 6, 2,023 credentials were issued. An average summer Thursday sees around 1,870.
  • Office traffic remains steady.
  • ITD thanks everyone for their patience as the system remains stable and the workaround solution is maintained.

Sept. 6, 2018 UPDATE

  • County DMV offices continue to process and issue licenses. On Sept. 5, 1,838 licenses were issued statewide. That’s an increase over the 1,724 issued the day prior.
  • Office traffic remains steady.

Sept. 5, 2018 UPDATE

  • County DMV offices are processing and issuing driver’s licenses. On Sept. 4, 1,724 licenses were issued statewide. A typical day sees somewhere between 1,850-1,900. The steady progress indicates the system workaround solution is working.
  • Additional training between ITD and county DMV staff continues.
  • Office traffic remains steady. Large volumes of customers are expected this week after outages last week. ITD and county staff appreciate the patience of customers visiting offices.

Sept. 4, 2018 UPDATE

  • All county DMV offices are expected to be open this week. Please check with our local DMV office for hours of operation.
  • The working solution remains in place for county sheriff staff to issue driver’s licenses.
  • Larger volumes of customers are anticipated. ITD and county staff appreciate the patience of our customers.
  • More information is available about the emergency extension implementation through Oct. 31, 2018, for all Idaho drivers with expiring or expired driver’s licenses due to recent DMV office closures.
    Idahoans whose driver’s licenses expired in July and August and have not renewed or licenses will expire in September:

    • Will automatically have their licenses extended until Oct. 31 by the DMV
    • This extension will be made to the individual’s DMV record and be visible to law enforcement
    • The extension will be available to the driver’s vehicle insurance company

    Idahoans who are flying commercially whose license have been extended by the DMV need to:

    • Present their current license to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
    • The TSA accepts a driver’s license that is up to one year past the expiration date as a valid identity document
    • If your license has been expired for more than one year, you will need to renew it at a county Sheriff’s DMV office

    The extension does not apply to:

    • Drivers whose privileges are currently suspended
    • Drivers with Commercial Drivers Licenses who do not have a legal presence document with the DMV
    • Drivers with Commercial Drivers Licenses with an expired HazMat endorsement

    Idahoans who have questions can contact the DMV at:


Aug. 31, 2018

The Idaho Transportation Department and county sheriff staff continue to use a workaround solution to issue driver’s licenses. Please check with your local DMV office for hours of operation as more counties open their doors. ITD appreciates our customers and county staff for their patience as driver’s license services come back online in counties across the state.

More information is available about the emergency extension implementation through Oct. 31, 2018, for all Idaho drivers with expiring or expired driver’s licenses due to recent DMV office closures.

Idahoans whose driver’s licenses expired in July and August and have not renewed or licenses will expire in September:

  • Will automatically have their licenses extended until Oct. 31 by the DMV
  • This extension will be made to the individual’s DMV record and be visible to law enforcement
  • The extension will be available to the driver’s vehicle insurance company

Idahoans who are flying commercially whose license have been extended by the DMV need to:

  • Present their current license to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • The TSA accepts a driver’s license that is up to one year past the expiration date as a valid identity document
  • If your license has been expired for more than one year, you will need to renew it at a county Sheriff’s DMV office

The extension does not apply to:

  • Drivers whose privileges are currently suspended
  • Drivers with Commercial Drivers Licenses who do not have a legal presence document with the DMV
  • Drivers with Commercial Drivers Licenses with an expired HazMat endorsement

Idahoans who have questions can contact the DMV at:

 

Idaho sees increase in deadly crashes this summer

BOISE – Labor Day weekend has come and gone, marking the unofficial end of summer and the end of the 100 Deadliest Days of summer driving.

Preliminary data from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) shows at least 104 people were killed in traffic crashes between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend this year—an increase from 91 deaths in 2017 and the highest total in the last five years.

“This is a trend we all need to work together to change,” said ITD Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson.

An estimated 94% of all crashes are caused by human error. The Office of Highway Safety partnered with law enforcement agencies across the state on high-visibility enforcement efforts to improve those behaviors. Tomlinson says making our roads safer is something everyone needs to take part in.

“If we look out for each other, we can make a difference,” he said. “Be engaged drivers, buckle up, and drive sober.”

ITD Gives Safety a New Look

Safety has a new look at the Idaho Transportation Department. Thursday morning employees across the state traded in their orange vests for high-visibility yellow vests.

The vests come as part of an effort across the department to focus on employee safety.

“I can’t emphasize just how significant this change is as far as prioritizing the safety of our employees,” said ITD Chief Operations Officer Travis McGrath.

Watch this video of the shift to yellow.

The new vests were designed and developed by a team of employee representing different disciplines from across the state.

The most notable change to the vests is the yellow color to help drivers recognize highway workers among the orange traffic control devices. The vests also have a retro-reflective X on the back to signify to motorists the worker’s back is turned. Employee feedback during design also helped with some functional aspects like snap buttons, pockets big enough for a tablet, a rear storage pocket, and a strap for radio microphones.

“I’ve been with ITD for a long time, and this is by far the biggest change I’ve seen in regard to our safety. I’m so glad we’re making this commitment to our employees,” said ITD Chief Deputy Scott Stokes.