The answer is probably within reach, or right in your hand. It’s broadly described by Idaho State Police as “distracted driving.”
Whether it’s a smartphone, computer, GPS, MP3 player, or reaching for a VAPE pen, people are dying because they are preoccupied with a tech gadget and not their driving.
In a survey conducted at the request of BOISEGUARDIAN.COM news blog, commanders in each of ISP’s six districts were asked to identify the “deadliest highway” in their district along with the proximate cause of fatality crashes investigated by troopers in 2016.
While the deadliest roads obviously varied between districts, responses like that of Capt. Steve Davis in Idaho Falls were typical: “An overwhelming contributing factor to most of our accidents has been driver inattention.”
Even more frightening was the inattention of those big-rig drivers. Davis noted, “All four of the commercial vehicle (fatal) accidents to which District 6 responded involved some type of inattentive driving.”
As for the most common causes of crashes statewide, ISP listed “failure to maintain lane, going off the roadway and overcorrecting, driving left of center, inattention, or distracted driving.” All add up to watching something other than the road ahead.
The two lanes of U.S. 95 in the Coeur d’Alene area were the deadliest in District 1 with several head-on crashes, according to Capt.John Kempf who also noted five fatalities involving commercial big rigs.
In the Lewiston area U.S. Highways 12 and 95 tied with five fatalities each.
In the Twin Falls district, Capt. Ismael Gonzales reported, “among all 36 fatal crashes occurring in District 4 during 2016, deceased victims correctly wore their safety restraints only 12 of 35 times possible.”
Even if people can’t pay attention to their driving, they have a better chance of surviving if they at least wear their seat belts.
As for the deadliest highways it is no surprise that busier routes had more fatal crashes. It is interesting to note that ALL of the limited access Interstates were the deadliest routes in each district. I-84 in southwest Idaho took first prize in the death count with crashes causing 15 deaths investigated by ISP in the Boise area.
District 5 at Pocatello reported I-15 near Blackfoot as the deadliest stretch of highway and Capt. Eric Dayley said, “The most common cause of fatal crashes in District 5 is drivers drifting off the road, overcorrecting, and rolling.”
The GUARDIAN survey focused only on ISP fatality investigations. However, a total of 253 people lost their lives in crashes investigated by all police agencies during 2016. That is the most deaths on Idaho roads since 2006. In 2011 we hit a modern day low in traffic deaths of 167. Idaho Transportation Dept. has a DASHBOARD full of highway information.
Crashes in cities and more populated areas have other deadly causes involving stop signs, failure to yield, following too close, pedestrians, speed in congested areas, DUI, etc.
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