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.

Holiday Travelers are Reminded to Drive Well

Independence Day is nearly and for many of us that means fireworks, barbeques and road trips.

As Idahoans prepare for their holiday travels, the Idaho Office of Highway Safety reminds them to be engaged behind the wheel.

“It’s an exciting time of year,” said Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson. “There is so much going on both inside and outside of the car that it really takes a conscious effort to stay focused.”

The busy travel holiday comes in the midst of the 100 Deadliest Days on Idaho roads. Since the Memorial Day weekend there have been at least 30 people killed in traffic crashes.

This year, is expected to be a busy one for people looking to get away for the Fourth of July both nationally and right here in Idaho. AAA predicts 47 million people will travel for the holiday, including a quarter million Idahoans.

“As with the national totals, we expect about a five percent increase in auto travel and an eight percent increase in air travel,” said Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “July 3 is expected to be the busiest day, particularly as vacationers mingle with commuters in the afternoon.”

In addition to additional motorists being on the roads, there will also be an increased presence from law enforcement agencies taking part in a statewide effort to get drunk drivers off the road.

“A lot of holiday cookouts involve alcohol and we just don’t want to see people get behind the wheel after a few drinks,” Tomlinson said.

“We also encourage careful and responsible celebration – alcohol does not mix well with fireworks, boating, or driving,” added Conde.

Testing finds no E. coli in Hagerman rest area water

UPDATE 7/3/18: Second water test comes back clean, so boil order lifted and water fountain reopens this afternoon.
UPDATE 6/30/18: Additional water testing at the Hagerman rest area on US-30 has come back negative for E. coli. Another test is slated for today, Monday 7/2.

Below is the initial release on the subject:

SHOSHONE—On Thursday, June 28 E. coli bacteria were found in the Hagerman Rest Area water supply located south of Hagerman on US-30. The discovery was made during routine quarterly testing conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Drinking fountains have been disabled but the rest area will remain open while ITD works with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to investigate the cause and take corrective actions on the issue.

Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process.

What should I do? What does this mean?

  • DO NOT DRINK THE WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
  • E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Human pathogens in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
  • The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice from their healthcare providers about drinking this water.

What is being done?

ITD is completing a comprehensive assessment of the water system as well as monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of the contamination.

Public will be informed when tests show no bacteria are present and there is no longer need to boil drinking water. It is anticipate that the problem will be resolved within 7 days.

For more information, please contact ITD at 208-886-7808 or ITD 216 South Date St. Shoshone ID 83352. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

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.