State fatality rates continue sharp decline
For the third time in the last four years, Idaho achieved a measure of roadway safety the state could not reach for the better part of 60 years. While there is still significant work to be done, this shows a trend in the right direction.
Idaho's roadway fatality rates continue to decline sharply, despite significant increases in vehicles traveling on the state's roads and people driving more miles each year.
In the year just completed, fewer than 200 people died on Idaho's highways, according to early 2014 data provided by the Idaho Transportation Department's Office of Highway Safety. The preliminary total for 2014 is 186 fatalities.
"Any loss of life is troubling, but this early 2014 data shows that we continue to make progress toward our goal of no one dying on an Idaho roadway," said ITD Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings.
Fatalities also dropped under 200 in 2011 (167) and in 2012 (184). It was not always so, however, as the average from 1956-2010 was 270 highway deaths per year.
There were 349 deaths recorded on Idaho's roadways in 1973, the worst year on record for traffic deaths in the state. In fact, Idaho averaged 323 fatalities each year throughout the 1970s.
The downward trend has continued despite a statewide increase in miles traveled and vehicles operated.
Today, six times as many miles are driven in Idaho than in 1956. The number has tripled since 1973. The number of vehicles on state roadways also has increased – seven times higher than in 1956 and more than a million more vehicles than in 1973. Yet, fatalities have decreased by 42 percent since those tragic years of the 1970s.
Jennings said that ITD's goal is to continue this downward trend in 2015 and moving forward.
"Idaho drivers are making smarter decisions, buckling up and avoiding risky behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving or driving while impaired," he explained.
Credit also goes to increased safety efforts by law enforcement, transportation and emergency response professionals; engineering improvements to vehicles and driving surfaces; and educational campaigns that increase awareness.
"Through the efforts of all of our partners, we continue to work Toward Zero Deaths," said Jennings.