Top-ranked College of Idaho Coyotes help shape Highway Safety effort

It’s been a great season for the College of Idaho men’s basketball team. After losing by four points in their season opener, the Yotes have put together a 30-game winning streak, they’ve won the Cascade Collegiate Conference regular season and tournament titles, and they’ve spent the last few weeks on top of the national polls. At 30-1, they host the first and second rounds of the NAIA Tournament March 6-7 in Caldwell, Idaho and have already secured a berth in the NAIA National Championship tournament beginning March 13 in Kansas City, Missouri.

In mid-February, Coach Colby Blaine sat down with members of ITD’s highway safety staff and law enforcement partners to talk about leadership and his team’s success. He provided a lot of great comments and insights, but one comment really stood out. He said once the team establishes its goals for the year, he asks “who do you have to become to get there?”

Our goal is zero fatalities on Idaho roads – who do we have to become to get there?

Shift began as a research project to reduce distracted-driving crashes in Idaho. As we worked on this project, we realized simply telling people to put away their phones was not enough. We had to show a better way – we had to show who we have to become to prevent these crashes.

We shifted the conversation to focus on what we are doing right and why that is important. That is where the idea of engaged driving was born. If we want to prevent distracted driving, we have to drive in the moment and free from distractions – we have to become engaged drivers.

We decided to create messages that are authentic and relatable and show the behaviors and outcomes we want to see on our roads. It was a bit of a departure from what we are used to seeing. There are no drivers with their phones in hand getting into crashes. Instead we chose to show who we can become when we shift our behavior, thinking and focus.

Knowing what our goal is and who we need to become to get there is important, but so is commitment to the process. Much like a basketball season, we may with new challenges and unforeseen circumstances but if we learn one thing from Coach Blaine and the Yotes, it’s that working as a team, we can accomplish great things.