Safe-driving Legislation, Long-range transportation plan
highlight board’s July meeting

The Idaho Transportation Board advanced distracted-driving legislation for consideration and reviewed items in the Long-Range Transportation Plan during the July 18-19 meeting in Boise at the District 3 offices.

Board tour
As part of the tour in District 3 on July 18, the board visited Mountain Home. The mayor wants to make the community more pedestrian friendly, address truck traffic, and review the Interstate 84 interchanges and access.

Back in Boise, the board stopped at Borah High School to observe the active shooter training exercise, coordinated by ITD and the Idaho Office of Emergency Management. A number of ITD employees participated in the exercise, along with personnel from local first responders.

Other stops on the tour were in Meridian and Kuna. Locals talked about the area’s unfunded needs and revenue shortfall and the growth in the area.

Delegation – city of Star
During the board’s business meeting in District 3 on July 19, it heard from two delegations.

The city of Star is working with the district on the ID-16 corridor. An economic corridor access management plan is being developed. As part of the modeling effort, the city would like ITD to add signals at two intersections with ID-44 to determine what the traffic impacts would be. The delegation said it understands the department needs to balance safety and mobility. 

The Garden City mayor expressed concern with pedestrian safety along Chinden Boulevard. The city would like to make that corridor more attractive to development and would like improvements between the fog line and right-of-way, such as sidewalks, utilities, and landscaping.

Long-Range Transportation Plan
A report on activities related to updating the long-range transportation plan was provided as part of an effort to keep the board informed of this project. In 2017, motorists from California surrendered the most drivers’ licenses in Idaho, followed by Washington, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Texas. Of the 11,293 Californians that surrendered their driver’s license in Idaho last year, 782 turned in their driver’s licenses in Meridian. The Post Falls office received the most Washington licenses. Residents from the District of Columbia and Rhode Island surrendered the fewest drivers’ licenses, 19 each.

Staff also reported on the results of the interactive public opinion survey. Ninety-two percent of the 559 participants reported that cars are their main mode of transportation. When asked what the state should spend additional, unmarked revenue on, 19% said preservation and maintenance, followed by 18% for expansion and capacity, 15% on bridges and structures, and 14% on safety. Transit infrastructure, bicycle/pedestrian, intelligent-transportation systems, and freight also received support; however, the categories are not mutually exclusive. The results of the survey will be used to develop the long-range plan, identify topics for further informational campaigns, and support follow-up items regarding transportation planning.

Distracted Driving Legislation
In response to last month’s request, staff presented potential distracted-driving legislation. The draft legislation makes it illegal to use hand-held devices except in emergencies. It would also be illegal to use headphones or earphones in both ears while operating a motor vehicle. Violations would be a primary offense.

There were 64 fatalities related to distracted driving in 2016. Distractions were a contributing factor in 22% of all fatal crashes in Idaho from 2012 to 2016. During that time, there were 216 fatal crashes, with 237 people killed. Of those fatalities, 52% were unbelted. 

The board emphasized the importance of safety and expressed support for the distracted-driving legislation. Member Kempton said he believes a culture change is needed to improve highway safety, and sometimes it takes legislation to change the culture. The board directed staff to submit the distracted-driving legislative idea to the Governor’s Office for consideration.

Published 07-27-18