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Deadliest days bring spike in fatal crashes

| September 18, 2023 1:00 AM

Idaho roads claimed 92 lives during the 100 deadliest days of summer from May 29 through Sept. 4.

That’s 11 more than the same time last year, when 81 people died in vehicle crashes according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

“Thinking about the gravity of the loss is heartbreaking. Ninety-two people are gone too soon, and families and communities across Idaho are mourning their loved ones,” Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton said, in a news release. “It’s a solemn reminder of the importance of buckling up, putting down the distractions, and driving sober.”

The 100 deadliest days of summer mark the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day when roads are the most dangerous.

Idaho sees a spike in fatal and serious injury crashes. During this time more people are out of school or work, on vacations, and celebrating. This increase in traffic can lead to more distracted, aggressive, and impaired driving, making the roads more dangerous.

Roadway accidents in Kootenai County totaled 590 in 2023, with six of those fatal, so roughly one out of 98 crashes resulted in a death.

Crashes in the state of Idaho during the same time totaled 6,609, so one in 72 crashes ended with a fatality in 2023.

All of the data from 2023 is based on preliminary reporting, public information officer for the Idaho Transportation Department Ellen Mattila said.

Vehicle crashes caused the majority of fatalities, followed by motorcycle crashes, and crashes involving pedestrians, according to the Office of Highway Safety.

While the number of vehicle crashes has gone down, the severity has climbed with more crashes resulting in a death, based on last year’s data from OHS.

During the 100 days of 2022, one in 176 crashes ended with a fatality in Kootenai County when four people died in 707 auto accidents.

The state saw 8,381 accidents with one in every 103 crashes ending in death statewide for 2022.

ITD's Office of Highway Safety has compiled a preliminary list of contributing factors to the fatalities in 2023:

• No seat belt — 34

• Fail to maintain lane — 20

• Speed — 11

• Alcohol or drug-impaired — 13

• Fail to yield — 10

• Inattention — 9

• Overcorrection — 5

• Drove left of center line — 5

• Improper overtaking — 4

• Wrong side or wrong way — 4

• Asleep, drowsy or fatigued — 2

• Fail to obey a stop sign — 2

• Distracted in or on the vehicle (GPS, cell phone, etc.) — 2

• Improper lane change — 2

• Tire defect — 1

Please note that the numbers in this list add up to more than 92 because most crashes have more than one contributing factor. For example, a fatal crash could involve both impaired driving and no seat belt, inattention, speeding, failing to yield, etc.

Overall, 2023 has been deadlier than 2022. So far this year, 168* people have died on Idaho roads, compared to 137 at this time last year.

Explore the traffic data in an online tool at itd.aashtowaresafety.net.

  • Some deaths can take longer to investigate and some deaths from 2023 have not yet been entered into the online tool, Mattila said.