Memorial Day Weekend Marks Beginning of the 100 Deadliest Days

Memorial Day Weekend is here. The unofficial start to summer brings with it barbeques, camping trips and the beginning of the most dangerous time on Idaho’s roads.

“The weather is nice, kids are out of school and there are just more people out on the roads,” said John Tomlinson from the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety.

The period of time between the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend and the end of Labor Day Weekend are often referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days of summer.

According to preliminary crash reports, 244 people died in crashes on Idaho roads in 2017 – 90 of those deaths were during this time period.

“Every time we lose someone on our roads, it impacts all of us,” Tomlinson said. “We will be working with our law enforcement partners to reduce crashes but we need help from everyone to make our roads and communities safer.”

To help keep roads safe this summer, ITD is planning multiple mobilizations to crack down on drunk drivers and to encourage people to buckle up. Tomlinson says it shouldn’t be up to the police alone to keep us safe.

“We can all do a little more,” he said. “We can all be more engaged while we’re out on the roads. Let’s put away the distractions and buckle up. If you choose to drink, plan a safe ride home. It’s up to all of us to get where we’re going safely.”

Help reduce roadside hazards and make highways safer

With snow melting and spring returning, highway crews are exchanging plows for dump trucks and are transitioning into summer maintenance. Every year crews performing routine maintenance are often delayed by signs placed too close to the roadway by the public. Regardless of the message, signs must be removed if they present a safety concern or are placed on state property.

Keeping the roadside free from obstacles preserves drivers’ line of sight and makes them available for emergency situations and staging equipment or personnel when needed.

If you need to place a sign near the road, please do not create a hazard. Refer to this Idaho Statue that guides sign placement and check with the local ITD office to make sure any sign you install does not pose a safety concern and is not on state property. Generally, signs placed beyond utility poles are not on state property.

Let’s do our part to support safety on local highways and let crews focus on keeping the highways in good repair.

Improper decision-making was common thread in Idaho’s recent aviation accidents

Idaho’s Division of Aeronautics, in its Idaho Aviation Accident Score Card, found faulty aeronautic decision-making was the common thread for most of the state’s 22 general-aviation accidents. There are numerous aviation safety teachings in the coming year to combat this trend.

Most of the accidents — 68% — occurred during the takeoff or landing phase of flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) categorized 73% of the accidents as “pilot error.” Another 9% were listed as “mechanical/maintenance” accidents. Five percent were “environmental,” another 5% were “unknown,” and 14% are still under investigation.

The report excludes scheduled commercial-airline flights and flight activity performed by the uniformed armed services.

General aviation flying in Idaho can be challenging. Statistics indicate Idaho has traditionally experienced a higher per-capita accident rate than neighboring states. In 2013, the division set a goal of reducing the state general aviation accident rate by half over a five-year period.

The goal is being accomplished through airport standard operating procedures, welcome packets for visiting pilots, fly-in safety briefings, safety seminars, and the annual safety standdown event.

View the 5-year accident bar chart.

The report analyzes aviation accident data from two years prior, in this case 2016. The data comes from the NTSB database. It takes a couple years for investigations to be completed; thus the reason for the two-year lag.

The report includes yearly comparisons and summaries, total number of general aviation accidents, fatal accidents, fatalities, pilot qualifications, and class of aircraft.

“With this data, we can identify a particular area of emphasis when planning workshops and trainings for the next year,” said Idaho Division of Aeronautics’ Jim Hinen, who leads the safety/education unit.

Here are a few of the findings:

– Aircraft accidents decreased from 28 in 2015 to 22 in 2016
– Fatalities resulting from aircraft accidents decreased from 9 in 2015 to 1 in 2016
– Fatal accidents decreased from 4 in 2015 to 1 in 2016

The mission of the Idaho Division of Aeronautics is to promote and foster aviation within the state of Idaho. The Safety/Education unit of the Division supports this mission by providing relevant, high-quality safety information, and education programs for the benefit of stakeholders.

Calendar of coming Idaho Division of Aeronautics safety events
Here are some upcoming safety events:
May 5: Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) Rusty Pilot Seminar in Boise
May 9: AOPA Collision Avoidance Seminar in Coeur d’Alene
May 16: Pilot Safety Seminar in Twin Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
May 18-19: Pilot Safety Seminar at the Idaho Aviation Expo in Idaho Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
Oct. 26: Certificated Flight Instructor Roundtable in Boise
Oct. 27: Annual Safety Standdown in Boise

The number of general-aviation accidents occurring in neighboring states from highest to lowest:
– Nevada 32
– Washington 31
– Oregon 23
Idaho 22
– Montana 18
– Utah 18
– Wyoming 10

Westbound I-84 construction between Kimberly/Hansen and Ridgeway Road exits starts April 2

The week of April 2, pavement rehabilitation is expected to begin in eastern Jerome County along the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 between the exits at Kimberly/Hansen (Exit 182) and Ridgeway Road (Exit 194).

This is part of a 12-mile reconstruction project anticipated to last through mid-November.

During construction, traffic on I-84 will be reduced to one lane in each direction and some ramp closures will occur. Drivers should expect reduced speeds throughout the project and watch for crews during working hours – Monday through Saturday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Additionally, six I-84 westbound on- and off-ramps will be reconstructed throughout the boundaries of the project. Crews will also hydro-blast and overlay bridge decks, replace existing pipes throughout the work zone with treated pipes that increase water flow and are longer-lasting, and excavate dirt below the overpasses to increase overhead clearance by as much as two feet.

Knife River Corp. Northwest from Boise is the contractor for this $23 million project.

Drivers are advised to check 511.idaho.gov for updates during construction.

ITD phishing scheme serves as a reminder to stay vigilant against outside cyber threats

In recent weeks, an Idaho Transportation Department Division of Motor Vehicles employee email account was compromised through an external phishing attempt.

In early January, ITD learned that an unauthorized individual used a phishing scheme to gain potential access to an employee’s email account. ITD secured the employee’s email account, reported the incident to law enforcement and the Department of Administration, and engaged a leading computer forensic firm to assist the agency.

In this incident, the attack came out of Nigeria and convinced an employee to give up their credentials.

The initial phase of the investigation determined the information of some customers could have been accessed by a third-party. Since that time, no abuse or theft had been reported. The investigation also determined that access was limited to a single employee email box and 89 customer’s potential information. ITD contacted potentially affected customers offering free credit monitoring.

This event is a good reminder that everyone is under constant threat whether at work or at home to this type of event. Think before you click and if you feel something isn’t right in the workplace, reach out to cyber security.

For more information, please contact ITD Communication Manager Vincent Trimboli at 208.334.8817.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Pedestrian Safety projects start in spring

BOISE – A dozen sidewalk and pathway projects benefiting child pedestrian safety will be built this year across the state beginning this spring.

There were 71 eligible project applications requesting more than $12M in funds to consider in this year’s funding cycle (there was just $2M in funding available). The maximum award is $250,000. Construction must be completed before the end of the year.

The projects are thanks to collaboration between the Idaho Transportation Department and the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council, after a legislative effort last year. They are funded with general fund surplus money approved by the Idaho Legislature during the 2017 session.

The following 12 projects were approved for funding:

Location        Amount
Ashton            $250,000
Title: Main Street sidewalk improvements
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk and lighting improvements along Main St. (ID-47) to connect with the existing pedestrian system at the high school.

Blackfoot         $171,000
Title: Ridge Crest Elementary Safety Improvements Project
Description: This project will provide a 575-foot section of sidewalk along Airport Road to extend the sidewalk from Ridgecrest Elementary to the park. Additional safety improvements include a pedestrian crossing at East Airport Road.

Burley             $191,000
Title: Highland Avenue and East 19th Street Sidewalk Connection
Description: This project will provide nearly a half-mile of new sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps that connect two schools along Highland Avenue. The schools are White Pine Intermediate and Dworshack Elementary.

Caldwell          $109,446
Title: Sacajawea Elementary School Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk, updated ADA curb ramps, bike lanes, and streetlights, and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon along Illinois Avenue to provide a safe route to school for children travelling to Sacajawea Elementary.

Carey               $154,640
Title: Crosswalk Signage and Pedestrian Improvement Project
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along ID-26 and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians walking across the state highway.

Driggs               $125,000
Title: South 5th Street Pathway
Description: This project will provide approximately 1,600 feet of 10-foot-wide multiuse path and ADA ramps along South 5th Street, connecting four schools to residential areas. This project extends an existing safe route to school.

Firth                  $250,000
Title: Children Pedestrian Improvements
Description: This project will provide new curb, gutter, and sidewalk along Center Street from Main St. (ID-91) to the elementary school. Additional safety improvements include a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signal on Main St.

Idaho Falls         $240,000
Title: Iona Street, Riverside Drive and Bush Elementary Connections
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along Iona Street and a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon for safe crossings at Riverside Drive (a busy street near an interchange). A second location includes sidewalk connections to Bush Elementary.

Marsing              $35,326
Title: ID-55 Sidewalk Project
Description: This project will provide new sidewalk along ID-55, connecting the public library and downtown with the elementary, middle, and high schools.

Moscow             $250,000
Title: Third Street Corridor Improvements
Description: This project will provide about 970 feet of new sidewalk along 3rd Street, connecting two elementary schools and the high school along a safe route to school. Additional safety improvements include adding center medians, curb extensions, vertical tube delineator (high-visibility markings), and school-zone lighting.

Shelley                $135,000
Title: Locust and US-91 Improvements
Description: This project will install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at the intersection of ID-91 and Locust Street to provide a safe pedestrian crossing for students going to the school or library.

Teton                  $28,000
Title: Child Pedestrian Safety Project
Description: This project will install Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons at two intersections along ID-33 south of Teton Elementary to provide safe crossing for students going to and from school.

New signal feature installed at Eagle and Ustick

No Right LED Sign

There’s a new feature on two signals along Eagle Road in Boise that’s sure to grab your attention: LED signs that light up to display a “no right turn” message.

Yield to U sign
A static sign reads “Yield to U-Turns”

Two signs have been placed on the intersection of Ustick and Eagle. It can be seen by the cars traveling the east-west Ustick corridor. The signs light up when cars on Eagle have a green left arrow light. The purpose is to prevent collisions between traffic making legal U-turns on Eagle and cars turning right off of Ustick.

While no crashes have been reported in this area, a number of near misses have been observed.

“This should eliminate those,” said ITD traffic engineer Erika Bowen. “We’re looking at doing a pilot for it. If this is successful, ITD plans on installing them up and down the Eagle Rd. corridor.”

Currently, many intersections on the corridor feature a sign advising those turning right to “Yield to U-Turns.” The new signs actively turn on and off only when necessary. The hope is the change will grab a driver’s attention and induce safer behavior.

The pilot program is a partnership between ITD and the Ada County Highway District.

ITD experiments with solar-powered pavement markings in Pocatello

The unusual amount of sunshine this winter has allowed the Idaho Transportation Department to experiment with a few alternatives to typical highway work. The most recent options are solar-powered pavement markings along short stretches of US-30/Garret Way in Pocatello, intended to increase the visibility of raised curb islands for drivers.

WATCH video

The first set of markers were installed along US-30 from Gould Street (milepost 335.4) to Pole Line Road (milepost 334.8) on Feb. 8. The next section to be outfitted with the special markers will be Pole Line to Cedar Street (milepost 334.3). ITD purchased 600 units and earmarked 100 for each of the six regional offices. The southeast Idaho office was the first to have them installed.

“This location was decided upon as a safety improvement due to lack of streetlights in this area and to help denote where there is curbing. The markers are lit and reflective, making them a good channelizing device in the dark,” ITD southeast Idaho Operations Manager Steve Gertonson explained. The markers store up solar energy during daylight hours, then use that to power LED lights in the markers at night.

ITD southeast Idaho Maintenance Foreman David Petersdorf said he’s already received numerous calls from the public saying they like the new markers.

ITD urges travelers to celebrate responsibly

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year with millions of Americans hitting the road to spend time with family. The holiday’s celebratory spirit also makes it one of the most dangerous periods on our roads.

In recent years, Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year.

“It’s the biggest drinking event we don’t talk about,” said Ken Corder from the Office of Highway Safety (OHS). “A lot of us like to catch up with old friends while we’re home for the holiday and to be honest and many of those meetings happen in a bar.”

This trend has resulted in what is being called “Blackout Wednesday” and it has been deadly on roads across our country. Over the last five years, an estimated 800 people were killed across the country as a result of impaired driving during the Thanksgiving holiday (6:00 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday). In 2016, an 37 people died each day during the Thanksgiving period.

In an effort to reduce impaired driving crashes, OHS is joining with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and every state across the country in a social media blitz.

“We want to start the conversation to get people home safely,” Corder said. “If you plan to drink, designate a driver, call a cab, or use a ride share app. You’re there to enjoy the holiday with family and friends – don’t let a bad decision ruin that for all.”

ITD to protect travelers during No Refusal Weekend

Local law enforcement agencies gather with partners to announce the No Refusal Weekend.

Photo above: Law enforcement agencies gather with partners to announce the No Refusal Weekend.

 

COEUR d’ALENE – With help from the Idaho Transportation Department, various law enforcement agencies in Kootenai County are expanding measures to protect the traveling public this holiday season, beginning with the No Refusal Weekend during Thanksgiving week.

“Drug- or alcohol-impaired driving is the leading cause of fatal crashes in Idaho,” said John Kempf, a captain with the Idaho State Police (ISP), during a press conference Thursday (Nov. 16).

Kempf said seven people died from six fatal crashes in Kootenai County in October — a significant number considering that during the last three years, there have been eight fatalities on average in the county for the entire year.

Of those six fatal crashes in October, ISP suspects five were alcohol or drug related, Kempf said.

In response, law enforcement agencies are launching a county-wide campaign to catch impaired drivers and prevent fatal crashes. Nick Knoll, an officer from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, coordinated with other law enforcement agencies and the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety to produce the No Refusal Weekend.

The No Refusal Weekend includes educational opportunities for the public but also marks the beginning of emphasis patrols for the holiday season. There will be 15 extra officers throughout the county Nov. 24-25, patrolling specifically for impaired drivers, Knoll said.

Knoll said these emphasis patrols were made possible by federal funding administered by ITD.

“ITD approved grants for local law enforcement agencies to cover the additional costs that will result from these extra patrols to enforce traffic safety,” said Lisa Losness, a grants officer for the Office of Highway Safety.

Five law enforcement agencies within Kootenai County applied for funding to pay the overtime wages of officers, with requests ranging from $500 to $1,500, to take part in the No Refusal Weekend, Losness said.

Viewers will have a chance to learn what makes the weekend unique by visiting the Facebook page of the Post Falls Police Department for a virtual ride-along experience starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 25), Knoll said.

If drivers are pulled over and refuse to take a breath test during emphasis patrols on No Refusal Weekend, officers will attempt to obtain a search warrant to have specially trained officers collect blood samples. Local law enforcement agencies note that those who refuse to cooperate with breath testing tend to have a significant history of DUIs and a high blood alcohol content when tested, Knoll said.

Test results from blood samples ultimately shorten court proceedings and save police departments time and money, Knoll said.

For those drivers stopped during the No Refusal Weekend for reasons unrelated to impaired driving, Knoll said Fire Artisan Pizza in Coeur d’Alene has provided officers with coupons to hand out as a thank-you to sober drivers.

ISP will offer alcohol beverage control training to any interested servers or bartenders at its Coeur d’Alene office at 1 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 21). The public is also invited to attend an informational booth in the Resort Plaza Shops before and after the Coeur d’Alene Lighting Ceremony Parade on Friday (Nov. 24). Visitors can wear “beer goggles” that simulate impaired driving, Knoll said.

Football fans who visit the booth can enter to win a football signed by Mark Rypien, the Washington Redskins’ MVP from Super Bowl XXVI, said Kootenai County Sheriff Wolfinger.

Parade viewers can also cheer on the No Refusal Weekend float and its theme of “Be a Hero. Prevent Impaired Driving” and know that the law enforcement agencies escorting the float have already partnered to protect travelers this holiday season.