Idaho traffic deaths reached 20 year high in 2023

At least 277* people were killed in traffic crashes in Idaho last year, making it the deadliest year on Idaho roads in 20 years. You have to look all the way back to 2003, when 293 were killed, to find a deadlier year.

Preliminary data from the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) shows a significant rise in fatalities across all crash categories in 2023. One-hundred ninety-five* people in vehicles were killed, of those fatalities, 105* were not wearing a seat belt. Forty people riding motorcycles, 31* people on foot, and 7* people on bicycles were killed in 2023. Four* deaths involved people riding ATVs, UTVs, or other off-road vehicles on public roads.

“Idahoans want to do right by their communities by driving safe, so this increase in fatalities should be alarming to all of us. The loss of Each person last year is a tragedy with broad impact,” said Idaho Transportation Department Director Scott Stokes. “So, in Idaho let us recommit ourselves to the principles of engaged driving to help save lives in the future. That means putting the distractions away, buckling up, and driving cautiously and respectfully.”

Grant funding is available through OHS for programs that aim to change unsafe behaviors like distracted and impaired driving to help reduce death and serious injury on Idaho roads. The application period for FY2025 grants closes on January 31, 2024. To apply, complete the grant application. OHS also offers mini-grants throughout the year for traffic safety community education and outreach, contact them at 208-334-8112 or email  Resources for community outreach efforts can be found at

Top 10 contributing circumstances to traffic fatalities in 2023 (in no particular order):

  • Fail to maintain lane
  • Speeding
  • Alcohol/Drug impairment
  • Fail to yield
  • Inattention
  • Drove left of centerline
  • Fail to obey a stop sign or signal
  • Overcorrecting
  • Distracted
  • Improper overtaking

Traffic fatalities by transportation district and county in 2023:

District 1

  • Boundary – 1
  • Bonner – 5
  • Kootenai – 21
  • Benewah – 4
  • Shoshone – 1

District 2

  • Latah – 2
  • Nez Perce – 9
  • Idaho – 9
  • Clearwater – 4
  • Lewis – 0

District 3

  • Ada – 31
  • Canyon – 32
  • Boise – 8
  • Elmore – 11
  • Owyhee – 2
  • Payette – 8
  • Gem – 5
  • Washington – 2
  • Valley – 3
  • Adams – 1

District 4

  • Jerome – 18
  • Twin Falls – 13
  • Cassia -8
  • Minidoka – 4
  • Blaine -4
  • Gooding – 3
  • Lincoln -2
  • Camas – 0

District 5

  • Bingham – 9
  • Bannock – 8
  • Bear Lake – 3
  • Franklin – 1
  • Oneida – 0
  • Power -1
  • Caribou -2

District 6

  • Bonneville – 17
  • Butte – 2
  • Fremont – 4
  • Jefferson – 8
  • Lemhi – 3
  • Madison – 2
  • Teton – 5
  • Custer- 1
  • Clark – 0
Year 2023 2022
Total Fatalities 277* 215
Motorcyclists 40* 29
Pedestrians 31* 16
Bicyclists 7* 4


*All 2023 data is preliminary and subject to change

Safe celebrations: Plan sober rides on New Year’s Eve and all of 2024

Idaho street in Boise with Christmas lights.

As Idahoans gear up for New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is reminding everyone to start 2024 right with a sober ride home. 2023 is on track to be one of the deadliest years on Idaho roads in the last 20 years.

So far this year 275* people have been killed on Idaho roads, surpassing last year’s total by 60 deaths. Of the total people killed in traffic crashes in Idaho last year, 51% involved impaired driving.

This weekend, ITD’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and over 50 law enforcement agencies across Idaho will collaborate to keep roads safe from impaired drivers.

While law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol, everyone can play a part in preventing impaired driving crashes by:

  1. Designating a sober driver or using a ride service.
  2. If you’re the designated driver, stay alcohol-free.
  3. Intervene if someone plans to drink and drive; take away their keys and arrange a safe ride.
  4. Seat belts save lives — A seat belt increases your odds of surviving a crash by 50% and is your best defense against drunk drivers.

“Have an epic last night of 2023, and then get a sober ride home so you can have an amazing 2024 as well,” urged Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton.

*Preliminary data subject to change

ITD looks to give ‘green light’ to better visibility on snow plows

Bright green LED light on wing plow

A small number of snowplows in North Idaho are taking part in a preliminary testing program being used to assess the efficacy of increasing visibility on plows and reducing the number of strikes each winter.

These ultra-bright, LED lights are being put to the test not only to measure how effective they are, but also how well they stand up to the abuse of being attached to one of the hardest working members of a snow fighting team – the wing plow.

Science has proven that green and yellow are some of the most highly visible, detectable and recognizable colors on the spectrum to the human eye, both day and night, which is why green and amber have been selected as the colors for testing.

Often, even when it’s not actively snowing, the plows on these trucks kick up tremendous clouds of snow and slush making it extremely difficult for drivers to see the low-profile wing plow while crews work. No matter how often drivers are warned to never pass a plow on the right, inevitably there are those who either miss the memo, or are too impatient to heed the warning and that is typically when those plow strikes occur.

The hope is that these bright lights will produce enough illumination to shine through the sprays of snow, slush and ice and be a visual warning to motorists that there is dangerous equipment on the road ahead.

Compared to the heavy financial hit suffered each time a plow is struck these lights are an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to improve safety, each ringing in at around $300 in total for the parts and labor required to install them.

On the flip side, while the circumstances of each plow strike are unique, it is estimated that it costs the Idaho Transportation Department roughly $10,000 per incident in parts and labor to repair equipment damaged in an incident. In addition to the financial hit, the larger impact is often having a truck out of service for extended periods of time meaning additional strain on mechanics to get them fixed, and on plow crews to work harder with fewer resources to keep the roads safe.

If these lights prove successful over the 2023-2024 winter, ITD will likely do a more comprehensive pilot program next year including more trucks across broader areas throughout the state.

Green lights have been successfully adopted several state transportation departments including Utah and Montana, and in several cities and counties in eastern Washington. They are also currently being considered by Washington, Wyoming, and Oregon state transportation departments. “Having uniformity between neighboring agencies is another big reason we are trying this out,” said Fleet Operations Manager Ryan Crabtree This uniformity enhances safety by ensuring driver experiences and expectations remain the same from place to place as they travel throughout the Pacific Northwest.

A magical Christmas includes a sober ride home

An officer practices a field sobriety test

It’s almost Christmas! This weekend will be filled with festive parties and family get-togethers! As Idahoans celebrate the season, the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) urges everyone to include a sober ride home in their Christmas plans.

“All anyone wants for Christmas is to have everyone in their family there to enjoy it. Sadly, many families have lost loved ones to drunk driving related crashes. Give yourself or a friend the gift of a sober ride home when drinking, it could save a life and a lot of heartache,” encouraged Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton.

According to data from OHS, last year in Idaho there were 1,818 impaired driving crashes, and 110 people were killed.

To raise awareness, OHS recently kicked off an impairment campaign featuring videos of five volunteers at an alcohol impairment workshop called a wet lab. A behind-the-scenes video posted by an attendee at the wet lab recently went viral with millions of views on social media.

Wet labs are a controlled environment designed to show all involved, from volunteer drinkers to police officers, that legal drinking limits aren’t always safe driving limits. Impairment happens faster than drivers might think. Volunteer drinkers learn that even a small amount of alcohol can slow their reaction time and make them unsafe to drive.

Watch the videos.

For more information on impaired driving visit and


Statewide effort to stop impaired drivers from ruining the holidays

Idaho street in Boise with Christmas lights.

As the holiday season approaches with joyous celebrations, the unfortunate reality across Idaho is that these festivities are often abruptly cut short by the devastating impact of impaired driving.

From Dec. 13 through New Year’s Day, over 50 Idaho law enforcement agencies will collaboratively engage in a national effort to remove impaired drivers from our roadways. Officers will actively patrol to safeguard the holidays, preventing impaired drivers from ruining the holidays for their own safety and that of others.

Colonel Kedrick Wills, Director of the Idaho State Police (ISP), emphasized the collective commitment to public safety, stating, “Embodying an unwavering dedication to public safety, law enforcement agencies across the region stand united in the collective responsibility of preventing impaired driving and saving lives. Our collaborative enforcement efforts serve as a potent deterrent, leaving no room for doubt that impaired driving is unacceptable. Make the right choice for the well-being of others – never drive impaired.”

To coincide with the launch of the statewide impaired driving enforcement campaign, a one-day regional summit on impaired driving took place at the Boise Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The summit featured distinguished speakers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and law enforcement experts from agencies throughout the state and the nation.

“Data reveals a concerning 14.2% increase in alcohol-related crash fatalities nationwide from 2020 to 2021, underscoring the critical importance of responsible driving behaviors,” explained Greg Fredericksen, NHTSA’s Region 10 Administrator. “NHTSA joins Idaho’s state agencies and local partners to launch a vital initiative featuring impactful public service messages like ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,’ emphasizing the urgent need to address the alarming surge in impaired driving incidents.”

According to data from the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS), last year in Idaho there were 1,818 impaired driving crashes, and 110 people were killed.

“Driving under the influence is not an accident or a mistake. It is a choice and a crime,” said Dennis Maughan, MADD Regional Executive Director. “It not only puts the driver’s life at risk, but also endangers the lives of innocent pedestrians, passengers, and other drivers who share the road with them.”

OHS and law enforcement urge everyone celebrating this holiday season to include a plan for a sober ride home and to never drive impaired. Making a plan before drinking makes it easier to stick to once intoxicated.

Traffic safety grants available for Idaho communities

Have an idea that could improve traffic safety in your community? The Idaho Office of Highway Safety’s (OHS) FY2025 grant application opens today. Funding is available for programs that aim to change unsafe behaviors like distracted and impaired driving to help reduce death and serious injury on Idaho roads.

243* lives have already been lost this year, far exceeding the 215 traffic-related deaths in all of 2022. Idaho is on track to exceed our worst year in recent history, which was 273 lives lost in 2021. 2021 was the worst year for traffic fatalities since 2005.

“Locals know their communities best,” explained Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton. “We want this grant money to go to community organizations that will impact traffic safety in their neighborhoods most.”

Funding comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal grant program. Grants may be awarded for assisting OHS in targeting traffic safety focus areas, expanding ongoing activities, or developing a new program or intervention. Traffic safety focus areas include:

  • Impaired Driving
  • Aggressive Driving
  • Distracted Driving
  • Seatbelts
  • Child Passenger Safety
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety
  • Motorcycle Safety
  • Young Drivers
  • EMS Post Crash Care

To apply for FY2025 funding, complete the Office of Highway Safety Grant Application.

The application and instructions are available on our website at under the ‘Grant Programs & Funding’ tab. This application is for year-long funding for FY2025 which begins Oct 1, 2024 and ends Sep 30, 2025.

The application must be received no later than 5 p.m. MST, Wednesday, January 31, 2024, via email: or by mail: ITD Office of Highway Safety, P.O. Box 7129, Boise ID 83707-1129. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

*Preliminary data, subject to change

Community invited to review options to improve State Highway 16 between Sh-44 and SH-52

Freezeout Hill

The Idaho Transportation Department is holding a public meeting on Monday, December 4 in Ada County and Wednesday, December 6 in Gem County. The community is invited to learn about the project, give input on issues and concerns, and provide feedback on a range of plans to improve SH-16.

Details for the in-person meetings are listed below:

  • Monday, December 4 at Eagle Christian Church (100 S Short Rd, Eagle, ID 83616)
  • Wednesday, December 6 at Emmett High School (721 W 12th St, Emmett, ID 83617)
  • 4:30 – 7 p.m. (drop in anytime)
  • Please join at whichever location is most convenient for you.

An online meeting will be available for those that are not able to attend the in-person meetings. The online meeting will be open from December 7 – 21 at

At the meetings, ITD will share details about:

  • The purpose and need for the environmental reevaluation.
  • Updated traffic and crash data information.
  • Modification to the 2005 preferred alternative.
  • The project timeline and next steps in the process.

“We look forward to sharing the range of modified improvement plans with the community and receiving their feedback,” said ITD Project Manager Mark Wasdahl. “Their input is very important to the reevaluation process and will help us moving forward.”

The SH-16, SH-44 to SH-52 project began in June 2023 and is expected to be complete in 2025. ITD has already met with numerous state and local agencies and property owners to identify concerns, discuss ongoing planning efforts and share information about the project.

To sign up for email updates or learn more about the project, please visit


ITD urges drivers to share the roadway

Plow clearing SH-6 near White Pine Campground

With a winter storm forecasted for the weekend, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) wants to remind drivers to share the road with snowplows.

Snowplows push snow off the road and deploy a variety of salt products to keep roadways bare and wet most of the time during storms. Drivers also need to do their part to keep everyone safe on the road.

“Slow down in snowy conditions, and give yourself extra time to get where you need to go this weekend,” Foreman Chuck Sharp said.

Aside from leaving early and using caution when driving in the snow, here are five tips to help share the road with snowplows:

  • Don’t crowd the plow. Stay back around 50 feet.
  • A snowplow has a 12-foot front plow and 10-foot wing plow and takes up the entire lane. Don’t crowd the centerline.
  • The safest spot is behind the plow. Only pass when safe to do so.
  • Never pass on the right.
  • Before traveling, check for road conditions that are updated 24/7.

While operators work in the worst weather, often the biggest threat to their safety is other drivers. Last winter, 17 plows were hit in Idaho.

“Plows weigh around 58,000 pounds fully loaded,” Sharp said. “Drivers who run into this heavy equipment trying to pass are risking their own safety, and the safety of others on the road when the plow isn’t able to continue working due to damage.”

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips

Top 10 Winter Driving Tip

Idaho agencies prepare drivers for winter driving conditions throughout Idaho

An ITD snowplow.

As winter approaches with its inevitable challenges, it’s paramount that drivers prepare themselves to navigate tricky road conditions and minimize unnecessary risks during inclement weather. In a united effort, nearly 50 law enforcement and public safety agencies across Idaho are launching a Winter Driving safety campaign to educate the public about winter driving and snowplow safety. Additionally, statewide emphasis patrols will look for seat belt and impaired driving violations.

Idaho State Police Director Kedrick Wills emphasizes the significance of a collaborative effort, “Every action behind the wheel carries the weight of responsibility that we all share. As law enforcement professionals, we urge every driver to navigate winter roads carefully, respect the conditions, and never drive impaired. Winter driving demands heightened vigilance, so every journey ends with a safe return home.”

The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) pledged increased funding to support local law enforcement in enforcing seat belt violations. Disturbing collision data between 2015 and 2019 revealed that over half of the vehicle occupants killed in Idaho were not restrained, and 1,207 unrestrained individuals suffered critical injuries. While seat belt usage has improved, more than one in ten Idahoans neglect to buckle up. In 2019, 72% of those killed in single-vehicle fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts, underscoring the importance of this life-saving habit.

Josephine Middleton, Highway Safety Manager at ITD explained, “We want drivers to make plans for a sober ride home before they start drinking and remember that wearing a seatbelt is the best defense in a crash. Police are there to protect us from dangerous drivers, but our roads are made even safer when people make good choices before getting behind the wheel.”

In addition to seat belt enforcement, extra patrols will focus on combating impaired driving. Despite being entirely preventable, over 11,500 people lost their lives in drunk-driving incidents across the United States in 2020, equating to one death every 45 minutes. In Idaho, 92 people were killed in impaired collisions. It’s essential to recognize that impairment extends to any substance that hampers the ability to drive safely – various substances slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times. While officers enforce the law, it’s everyone’s job to prevent impaired driving.

Here are some critical steps to consider:

  • Plan ahead – Don’t drive impaired.
  • Arrange for a safe and sober ride home in advance.
  • Seek an alternative mode of transportation if you consume any impairing substances.
  • If someone is impaired, do not allow them to take the wheel.
  • Always wear a seat belt, as it is your primary defense against impaired drivers.


As winter weather is unpredictable and treacherous, drivers should prepare for adverse conditions. Statewide, more than 16,000 accidents occurred during inclement weather between October 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, with many attributed to unsafe driving in snow, ice, and wet conditions.

When traveling, let others know your plans – especially if driving through areas without cell service – and check in on arrival. Make safe winter driving a habit:

Adjust your driving to handle changing conditions:

  • Reduce your speed and drive at a safe pace.
  • Avoid driving into a storm; find a safe place off the road and wait.
  • Stay in your vehicle until visibility improves, even if an accident occurs.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Exercise caution around stopped or slow-moving vehicles.
  • Only pass or change lanes when necessary.

Prepare your vehicle:

  • Ensure you have a full tank of gas and windshield washer fluid.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-season or studded snow tires.
  • Carry chains, a tow rope, cat litter, or cardboard for emergency traction.
  • Have a blanket, warm clothing, shovel, jumper cables, and a windshield scraper on hand.
  • Prepare a first aid kit with a knife, flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, and cell phone charger.

Avoid distractions:

  • Stay focused on the road and remain vigilant for potential road hazards like animals and trees.
  • Take necessary breaks to combat fatigue.
  • Be mindful of hidden dangers like icy overpasses and bridges, open ground blizzards, hills, stoplights, signs, and ruts that may collect water.

Every year, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) deploys over 550 snowplow operators to clear over 3.4 million miles throughout Idaho. Ensure their safety:

Give snowplows ample space to work:

  • The best roadway is a safe distance behind a working plow.
  • Never pass on the right.

Know before you go:

  • Check the weather forecast before embarking on your journey.
  • Stay informed about Idaho Department of Transportation (IDT) winter road conditions at and monitor National Weather Service updates at

Seat belts save lives: ITD urges Idahoans to buckle up as statewide enforcement campaign kicks off

Eighty-eight percent of Idahoans wear their seat belt. Starting today extra police patrols will be focused on making sure you are one of them.

From Friday, Nov. 17 to 30 the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and over 50 law enforcement agencies from around the state are teaming up to promote seat belt use. Expect to see more police on the roads in the next few weeks focusing on stopping and educating drivers about seat belt safety.

Most Idahoans wear their seatbelts. OHS conducts an annual observational survey of seat belt use every summer. This year’s statewide observed seat belt use rate was 87.5% which is only a slight deviation from last year’s rate of 87.6%.

Survey data from this year and past years shows that seat belt use is higher in urban areas and lower in rural areas. Although crashes happen more often in urban areas, OHS data shows a higher rate of fatal crashes in rural areas in part because of lower seat belt use, as well as factors like speed and impaired driving.

“Seat belts save lives. If you get into a crash, a seat belt increases your odds of survival by nearly 50 percent,” explained OHS Occupant Protection Program Specialist Tabitha Smith.

This heat map depicts all crashes (all severity types) across Idaho from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022.
This heat map depicts all crashes (all severity types) across Idaho from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022.
This heat map depicts crashes with unbelted fatalities across Idaho from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022.
This heat map depicts crashes with unbelted fatalities across Idaho from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022.

Idaho crash data from  January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2022, is available online. Some 2023 data is available online, however, all 2023 data is preliminary and could change.