ITD presents highway investment-and-safety scenario to House and Senate

Improving highway corridors reduces crashes, saves lives and brings a tremendous return on investment.

That was the message from Chief Deputy Scott Stokes to the House and Senate transportation committees this week.

"Highway safety affects every corner of Idaho," he explained. "I'd be surprised if everyone here has not been touched in some significant way by highway crashes. I know I have. And certainly we are all impacted financially."

ITD estimates the societal cost of crashes in the state at $2.3 billion per year – a burden of $1,400 for every man, woman and child. If increased investments in transportation reduced crashes by 25 percent, that would save each Idahoan approximately $300 per year.

Stokes' presentation emphasized that it is far less expensive to prevent a crash before it happens than to pay for it after it happens.

"ITD's transportation investments have an immediate and measurable impact on safety," Stokes told his audience.

Statewide, between 2007-2012, total traffic crashes dropped by 18 percent. In that same time period, fatalities and serious injuries fell by approximately 25 percent – saving about 80 lives per year.

During that time, work in the Interstate 84 Treasure Valley corridor (where several major GARVEE-funded projects took place), reduced crashes by 42 percent. In the U.S. 30 corridor, also home to several GARVEE projects, the crash reduction was 76 percent in the three years immediately following the work. In both cases, improvements in safety occurred despite a significant increase in traffic volumes. In the GARVEE corridors, traffic increased by approximately 46 million miles driven each year.

Published 1-24-14