100 Deadliest Days – Be Safe This Summer

Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of the summer season. Along with cookouts and camping trips, it also marks the beginning of the deadliest time on Idaho’s roads. Historically, fatal crashes nearly double in the summer compared to the rest of the year which is why the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is called the ‘100 deadliest days.’

Officials say the three most common contributing factors in Idaho wrecks are aggressive, distracted and impaired driving. The overwhelming majority of our crashes (94 percent) are caused by human error. Don’t let your summer memories turn into tragedy. Be sure to buckle up, wear a helmet, don’t talk or text while driving, stay rested, stay sober, be aware and obey the speed limit.

The best way to survive a crash is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Our families and friends are counting on you to help keep Idaho roads safe this summer. Here are a few points on summer safety:

Water1

  • Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim and don’t over estimate your abilities.
  • Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows.
  • Don’t drink while swimming.  About half of all male teen drownings are alcohol related.

Motorcycles

  • Take a motorcycle safety course such as Idaho STAR (idahostar.org).  Riders who complete this course have a 79% reduced crash risk2.
  • More than 80% of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death3.
  • Drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all collisions occur4.
  • Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen4.
  • Wear the appropriate safety equipment including helmets.

Motor Vehicles

  • The two biggest causes of fatalities on the road are speeding and impaired driving5.
  • The three “D’s” of impaired driving; drunk. drugged, distracted.
  • The effects of driving while intoxicated are well known. Driving while distracted or fatigued is just as dangerous.
  • Studies indicate that simply talking on a cell phone while driving impairs the driver comparable to being intoxicated6.
  • Slower reaction times, reduced vigilance, and defects in information processing caused by fatigue can result in driving performance similar to someone legally intoxicated7.
  • 60% of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving.
  • Put your phone away while driving. If you need to make a call or text, pull over into a parking lot to do so safely.
  • Idaho is falling behind. We are currently above the US trend in both fatality rates and injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Idaho is below the national average on seat belt use.

ATV/UTVs8

  • ATV tires are built for off-road use.  Riding on paved roads is the most common surface on which ATV deaths occur.
  • Kids should not be allowed to ride adult ATVs.
  • Only allow additional riders on ATV’s designed for multiple people.
  • As with motorcycles, wear the appropriate safety equipment including helmets.

Resources:

  1. National Safety Council
  2. Idaho STAR
  3. NSC (https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/motorcycle-safety)
  4. NSC (https://www.nsc.org/road-safety)
  5. NHTSA (https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/drowsy_driving1/human/Drowsy.html)
  6. We Save Lives (https://wesavelives.org/3ds/drunk-driving/#)
  7. Idaho Transportation Department (https://itd.idaho.gov/safety/?target=crash-records-statistics)

Local Statistics1:

  • 67% of all motor vehicle crashes occurred on urban roadways, 73 percent of the fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred on rural roadways in 2018.
  • Of the 78 people killed in impaired driving crashes, 66 (85%) were either the impaired driver, a person riding with an impaired driver, or an impaired pedestrian.
  • If everyone had been wearing seat belts, 41 of the 82 unbelted motor vehicle occupants may have been saved.
  • Aggressive driving was a contributing factor in 50% of the motor vehicle crashes and
  • 75 people were killed in aggressive driving crashes.
  • Distracted driving was a factor in 20% of the motor vehicle crashes and 48 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.
  • Just over half (51%) of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2018 involved just the motorcycle and nearly a third (32%) of fatal motorcycle crashes involved an impaired motorcycle driver.
  • There were 19 pedestrians and 2 bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes
  • Idaho is currently above the US trend in both fatality rates and injuries in motor vehicle crashes and below the national average in seat belt usage.
  • The following are signs and symptoms of drowsy driving, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine2:
    • Frequent yawning or difficulty keeping your eyes open
    • “Nodding off” or having trouble keeping your head up
    • Inability to remember driving the last few miles
    • Missing road signs or turns
    • Difficulty maintaining your speed
    • Drifting out of your lane

This may be the time to relax and plan for summer fun but it is not the time to relax while driving, especially for your teens3.

  • Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
  • Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group.
  • An average of 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, an increase of 26% compared with the other months of the year.
  • 60% of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving.
  • Smart drivers don’t use smartphones! Turn your device off and put it in the glove box when you’re driving. If you really need to make a call or text, pull over into a parking lot to do so safely.
  • Never ride with someone who uses a cellphone while driving. If they insist, offer to make their calls or texts for them.
  • Make this your mobile device email signature: “Sent from my phone, but not while driving!”
  • On your voicemail message, say “I can’t take your call because I may be driving”
  • If you’re taking a prescription, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it’s ok to drive.
  •  If you suspect a friend has just smoked marijuana, don’t let them get behind the wheel.
  • Arrange for alternate transportation whenever there is a potentially impaired driver.
  • Offer to be a designated driver.

Resources:

  1. https://itd.idaho.gov/safety/?target=crash-records-statistics
  2. https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatigued-driving
  3. https://wesavelives.org/100-deadliest-days-of-summer/
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