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Authorities urge you to buckle up as the 100 deadliest days of driving begin

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A series of recent crashes throughout Idaho | File photos, EastIdahoNews.com

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

Over the last several weeks, there have been several traffic-related deaths. A 77-year-old St. Anthony man died earlier this week on U.S. Highway 20 near Rexburg after hitting a guardrail.

RELATED: Man killed in crash south of Rexburg

The top three reasons for these crashes, according to ISP spokesman Lt. Chris Weadick, are inattentive, distracted or aggressive driving. But the biggest area of concern is seatbelt usage, he says.

“We’ve already seen fatalities in our area in the last couple weeks where lack of seatbelt use contributed to a fatality, and we are just now getting to the start of the 100 deadliest (driving) days of summer. We can’t stress enough the importance of wearing your seatbelt, paying attention to your driving, and obeying the traffic laws,” Captain Sam Hulse with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office tells EastIdahoNews.com.

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.

Data provided by the Idaho Transportation Department indicates there were 234 traffic-related deaths throughout the state in 2018. Thirty-nine traffic-related deaths have occurred in 2019 so far. The number of people killed from not wearing a seatbelt is not specified, but Sgt. Bryan Lovell with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office says lack of seatbelt use is a large factor in major injury crashes statewide.

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

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

ISP is working with 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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