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Authorities urge caution as we enter the 100 deadliest days of driving

Local

EastIdahoNews.com file photo

IDAHO FALLS — The summer travel season unofficially kicks off this weekend and law enforcement wants you to be safe on Idaho’s roads.

Each year, law enforcement sees an increase in traffic accidents between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which is why they refer to this time frame as the 100 deadliest days of driving.

“During that time, (the number of people on the road increases) and then you mix in the three top reasons we are seeing crashes, and all of a sudden it becomes the 100 deadliest days of driving,” says local ISP spokesman Lt. Chris Weadick.

The top three reasons for these crashes, Weadick says, are inattentive, distracted or aggressive driving. But the biggest area of concern is seat belt usage, he says.

“We are seeing a lot of fatal crashes where the occupants were unbuckled,” he said.

Southeast Idaho has the lowest rate of seat belt usage in the entire state, according to Weadick. He says people living in an agriculture-based economy are not used to wearing seat belts.

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center officials say 95-percent of people who wear seat belts escape injury-free from collisions. The key to changing people’s mentality on seat belt usage, Weadick says, is education.

“We are really hitting our driver’s education classes hard in promoting seat belt usage,” Weadick says.

A news release from Idaho State Police indicates 90 people died on Idaho roads in 2017. In 2016, EIRMC treated 1,400 trauma patients. More than half those were car accidents, EIRMC spokeswoman Jessica Clements said.

“Summer is a time when people need to be paying attention and careful when they’re driving,” Clements tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Weadick says ISP is working other law enforcement agencies to make sure people are buckled up while traveling this weekend. As they work to ensure people are safe on Idaho’s roads, Weadick says he is encouraged by people who voluntarily comply with Idaho’s seat belt law.

“Sometimes we’ll make a traffic stop with a van full of people and everyone inside has their seat belt on,” he said “They’ll have child seats in use. It is really rewarding to see our efforts making a difference.”

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