Idaho motor vehicle fatalities drop by nearly one-third over two years

Idaho leads the nation with a 31 percent reduction in traffic fatalities over the past two years, ITD and the Idaho State Police announced this week.

While fewer people died in traffic crashes in Idaho in 2011 than in any year since 1956, the state’s safety leaders remain concerned that any loss of life is unacceptable.

Preliminary data indicate that in 2011, 168 people died on Idaho’s roads, 41 fewer than in 2010 and 58 fewer than in 2009 when crashes claimed 226 lives.

“Idaho drivers are making better decisions. They are making smart choices and avoiding risky behaviors such as speeding and driving after drinking,” said ITD Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings.

He also credited the efforts of law enforcement, transportation and emergency response professionals, engineering improvements to highways and vehicles, and education campaigns for reducing traffic-related deaths.

Fatalities attributed to driving under the influence and speeding declined from 2010.

“These numbers present both hope and concern,” Jennings said. “While the overwhelming majority of our drivers are wearing their seatbelts and are not driving after drinking, we are still very concerned about those who are engaging in risky behaviors.”

In 2011, 70 people who died in traffic crashes were unrestrained. Safety experts estimate that approximately half of those people might have survived if they had been wearing seat belts.

Idaho’s downward trend is not unique. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nationwide traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to the lowest levels since 1949, despite a significant increase in the number of miles Americans drove during the year.

“Our goal is to sustain this downward trend in 2012, as we move Toward Zero Deaths on Idaho’s highways” Jennings said.

Published 1-20-2012