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Memorial Day weekend marks beginning of 100 Deadliest Days of driving


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BOISE – Memorial Day weekend is the start of what’s known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer”, and this year the holiday weekend comes as fatality rates are increasing across the country.

Locals have been driving less during the COVID-19 pandemic but that doesn’t mean the roads are any safer. Since March, data from the National Safety council indicates higher fatality rates per miles driven.

ITD traffic counts indicate a 14% increase in fatality rates across the country per miles driven in March in spite of an 8% drop in the total number of highway deaths compared to the same month last year. The report also indicates Idaho’s fatality rate saw a decrease of 28%.

“It is encouraging to see Idaho bucking this trend, but it is important to remember that this report looked at the month of March when Idaho was in its early stages of the stay-home order,” said ITD Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson. “We’re beginning to reopen the state and we’re seeing more cars on the roads right now. Unfortunately, we are seeing fatalities increase as well.”

In addition to the increase in traffic, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the 100 deadliest days of driving.

In 2019, ITD reports 92 of the 244 fatalities in car-related accidents in Idaho occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day in September. Since March 25, there have been 24 fatalities. Fourteen of those fatalities occurred in the month of May.

“What makes summer months so dangerous is in part due to the larger number of vehicles on the roads,” said Tomlinson. “We are seeing that correlation now as we look at our crash fatalities from March to April, and now into May as more drivers are out.”

The major causes of accidents, Tomlinson says, include distractions, impairment from alcohol or other substances, and a higher traffic rate. He is urging you to avoid these activities while driving so you can be safe.

“Every time you get in a car, whether it’s a quick trip or a long haul, there are key actions you can take to make it to your destination safely,” said Tomlinson. “Be sure to slow down, drive engaged, drive sober, and always buckle up.”