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.

ITD Office of Highway Safety launches SHIFT Idaho engaged-driving campaign

Whether it’s a drive around the block or a trip across the state, there is no shortage of distractions to take your mind off the road. To help Idahoans stay focused on the drive, ITD’s Office of Highway Safety is launching a new engaged-driving program called SHIFT.

The idea behind engaged driving is to create an opportunity for Idahoans to start thinking and talking about what’s appropriate behind the wheel and in the passenger’s seat. SHIFT is a program designed to help share techniques and strategies to reduce distractions and grow driver engagement.

“A distraction is anything that takes your mind away from the road,” said Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson. “There are obvious distractions and others we may not even recognize – but we all know what it means to be engaged and we really want to highlight those behaviors.”

This approach is based on the concept of Positive Culture Framework, a system that promotes health and safety by building on shared values, beliefs and attitudes.

“Most people in Idaho are doing the right thing,” said Tomlinson. “SHIFT is our opportunity to grow those good behaviors and make our roads safer.”

Unlike traditional highway safety campaigns, SHIFT combines efforts to reach drivers directly through different media with workplace engagement. A pilot program is currently underway to develop a toolkit to help teach employers how to talk to their employees about engaged driving. The pilot sites will test different tools and review workplace distracted driving policies to see what can be done to impact driver behavior.

“We feel the right combination of policy, education and reinforcement at the workplace can help us move the needle,” Tomlinson said. “We really believe this layered approach will help us create safer roads and a safer Idaho.”
To learn more about the program, visit shift-idaho.org

Idaho receives nearly $37 million from federal Airport Improvement Program

BOISE – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently awarded nearly $37 million in grants to Idaho airports from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

In all, 23 recipients received 32 FAA-AIP grants to maintain and improve Idaho’s airport facilities. This is the culmination of a joint federal, state, and local airport process to address air transportation in Idaho.

“Idaho’s quality airport system requires regular investment,” Idaho Division of Aeronautics Administrator Mike Pape said. “With that level of interest and commitment, Idaho will keep and improve a world-renowned airport system that services the citizens of Idaho to meet goals for mobility, safety, and economic opportunity.”

Some highlights:
– Idaho’s six primary (passenger) airports received grants totaling $28,961,834.
– Idaho’s federally eligible General Aviation airports received grants totaling $7,619,553.
– The Idaho Division of Aeronautics received a grant for $410,000 to update their Airport System Plan.

The state of Idaho, through ITD’s Division of Aeronautics, has provided an additional $1 million to assist airport owners in meeting the matching-funds obligation that is part of the FAA-AIP funding and to provide funding for small community airports that do not qualify for federal funding.

The list includes grants for these major projects:

McCarley Field/Blackfoot 
Rehabilitate Taxiway
$1,155,863

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Building
$3,560,586

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Improve Safety Area
$3,922,633

Friedman Memorial
Rehabilitate Runway, Snow Removal Equipment & Expand North Terminal Apron
$2,624,098

Idaho Falls Regional
Reconstruct Taxiways & Install Guidance Signs
$7,813,597

Jerome County 
Rehabilitate Apron & Reconstruct Taxiway
$1,137,390

Lewiston-Nez Perce County
Construct buildings for Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting, Snow Removal Equipment
$4,368,551
Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle
$598,275

Magic Valley Regional
Construct Taxiway, Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle
$1,228,658
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Reconstruct Taxiway
$3,460,768

McCall Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron
$1,250,797

Mountain Home Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron
$1,050,267

Pocatello Regional
Rehabilitate Runway 03-21, Reconstruct Taxiway, Rehabilitate Runway 17-35, Rehabilitate Taxiway, Acquire Snow-Removal Equipment
$998,437

$8M in funding available for Transportation Alternatives Program involving walking, biking

The Idaho Transportation Department is looking for walking or biking projects to be funded by nearly $8 million available through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP uses federal funds to provide a variety of alternative transportation projects that advance ITD’s strategic goals of safety, mobility, and economic opportunity.

Programs and projects such as on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects that improve access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, and safe routes to school educational projects, are eligible for TAP funding. Eligibility is contingent upon a project sponsor’s cash-only contribution to the project, right of way must be secured, and environmental requirements that do not exceed certain thresholds.

Please visit the TAP section of the department’s website at: http://itd.idaho.gov/alt-programs  to access the new application and instructions for submitting.

Final applications must be submitted to ITD electronically by December 1, 2017 at 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

 

 

 

 

 

DOUBLE DOWN ON THORNTON: Eastern Idaho project wins President’s and People’s Choice awards, plus $10,000 for Cystic Fibrosis

The Idaho Transportation Department Thornton Interchange project won the America’s Transportation “People’s Choice” vote today, along with a President’s Award from a national transportation industry group.

The America’s Transportation Awards (ATA) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) President’s Awards winners were announced today (Wednesday, Sept. 27) in Phoenix, Arizona.

The opening of the new Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg last November culminated 16 years of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built along a 34-mile stretch of the highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City.

Watch the video of the Thornton project.

Despite traffic volumes doubling during that time, improvements reduced serious-injury crashes by 75% and cut fatalities to less than one per year.

This marks the fourth Idaho project to advance to the national People’s Choice stage of America’s Transportation Awards since 2013. None of the four has finished lower than third in the public voting, furthering ITD’s reputation as a national leader. It is also the 11th AASHTO President’s Award for ITD since Director Brian Ness arrived in 2010.

ATA awards are a joint effort of AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The new Thornton Interchange greatly improves safety and mobility in Eastern Idaho and is saving lives,” said Ness. “This award shows ITD is now recognized nationally as an agency that finds better, more innovative ways to build projects that put the focus on serving the citizens.”

Completion of the Thornton Interchange removes dangerous at-grade intersections and makes the busy route a continuous four-lane divided highway from Idaho Falls to Sugar City.

“This honor and the national awards we have won are all employee driven. We empower our team to make decisions closer to where the work is being done and that has made us a more efficient and effective organization,” Ness added. “It’s this philosophy that is helping us to become the best transportation department in the country.”

Several innovations during the project saved ITD almost $450,000.

“Providing the contractor with a 3-D model for the Thornton Interchange and requiring the contractor 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 eastern Idaho District Engineering Manager Wade Allen.

“ITD will partner with the Idaho/Utah Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating the prize money to them,” ITD eastern Idaho District Engineer Jason Minzghor said. Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and eventually limits one’s ability to breathe.

Another sign of winter – studded tires legal Oct. 1 in Idaho

Studded tires are legal in Idaho from Oct. 1 to April 30

Snowstorms may not be part of the immediate weather forecast in the lower elevations and valleys of Idaho, but they’ve already made an appearance in the higher elevations and mountain passes. Accordingly, Oct. 1 marks the date for legal use of studded tires in Idaho. Idaho’s studded snow tire season continues through April 30.

While it may be legal to use the tires, officials advise against it unless conditions warrant. Studded tires are snow tires with small metal cleats embedded in the tread, and may cause undue wear on bare roadways.

Studded tire laws vary in neighboring states:

  • Montana: Oct. 1 – May 31
  • Nevada: Oct. 1 – April 30
  • Utah: Oct. 15 – April 15
  • Oregon: Nov. 1 – March 31
  • Washington: Nov. 1 – March 31
  • Wyoming: Legal all year

For weekly updates on highway construction projects in Idaho, call the Idaho Road Report at 511 or 1-888-IDA-ROAD (432-7623). For online updates, visit the transportation department’s road report at 511.idaho.gov.

Daily reports on winter road conditions are provided from November through April.

The transportation department is helping drivers stay safe with the annual Winter Safety Campaign. Check the department’s Facebook and Twitter pages. You also can visit our Road Maintenance page and click on the “Winter Driving” tab for helpful videos and other information.

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