(Idaho State Police Press Release, April 6, 2023)
Throughout Idaho, Idaho State Police (ISP) troopers and local law enforcement will have extra patrols enforcing distracted driving laws through the weekend. Idaho Transportation Department statistics indicate that in 2021, Idaho had 5,003 distracted driving crashes, including 30 fatalities and 284 serious injuries. The National Safety Council found that the percentage of drivers manipulating hand-held electronic devices increased by 127% from 2012 to 2021. ISP encourages drivers to put down distractions and focus on driving, as our roadways are dangerous.
“This emphasis has special meaning in District 4 due to the injury sustained by Sgt Wendler last year when a passing vehicle struck him on I-84 as he directed traffic at a vehicle fire. We want law enforcement to perform their duties and for travelers to reach their destinations safely,” said ISP Trooper Scott Bolen in District 4. “Unfortunately, distracted driving is the leading cause of crashes in the United States and Idaho. People should be concerned when someone is holding a cell phone as their attention isn’t on driving. Do the right thing, follow the law, don’t get distracted, and focus your full attention on driving.”
Distracted driving is defined as specific inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from driving to focus on another activity. The NHTSA reports that phones are the most frequent and dangerous distraction. Still, other activities like operating electronic devices, texting, emailing, searching for directions, or more conventional disruptions like interacting with passengers and eating are also distractions. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) report indicates that “Nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.”
With the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) and NHTSA grant funding, extra law enforcement will patrol high-traffic areas looking to enforce distracted driving laws. (www.shift-idaho.org/engaged-driving)