One is too many
The loss of a single life in a traffic crash on Idaho’s highways is not acceptable.
Preventing fatal crashes is the primary focus of a three-day conference Wednesday through Friday in Boise. ITD joins more than a half-dozen other sponsors in presenting the “Governor's Highway Safety Summit: Toward Zero Deaths.”
More than 120 representatives of federal, state and local agencies will assemble at Boise State University to create an agenda for life-saving change. The conference is more than a discussion of safety practices – it is a forum dedicated to finding solutions to the needless deaths on Idaho’s highways, roads and streets.
U.S. Transportation Secretary characterized the problem of highway traffic deaths as a “national epidemic.”
A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that 42,800 individuals lost their lives on America’s highways in 2004. That is roughly equivalent to the population of Coeur d’Alene, or the number of persons who perished in the recent Pakistan earthquake.
More important, those figures represent a husband or father, a wife or mother, a son or daughter, or a child – each individual death a tragic and unacceptable loss.
“We are in the midst of a national epidemic,” Mineta said. “If this many people were to die from any one disease in a single year, Americans would demand a vaccine. The irony is, we already have the best vaccine available to reduce the death toll on our highways – safety belts.”
ITD Director Dave Ekern and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne describe the losses on Idaho highways as unacceptable.
“As I travel the highways of Idaho, I’m always reminded how beautiful and great our state is,” Ekern said in announcing the Zero Deaths Safety Summit. “Then I see small memorials along the side of the road, and it reminds me of how many people die or are injured in automobile crashes. I have seen too many crashes, too many injuries, too many deaths.
“It is time to drive down the number of injuries and fatalities in Idaho. It is time to act decisively. It is time that highway safety becomes more than our highest priority – that it becomes our greatest achievement.”
How serious is the problem in Idaho?
The governor’s safety summit will bring together leaders from throughout Idaho who are committed to improving safety on the state’s highways. The conference is designed to:
The anticipated product of the summit will be a draft or framework for a comprehensive statewide safety plan that includes all agency, private and public stakeholders in Idaho and to identify ways in which the plan can be implemented.
Success will be measured in the number of lives saved.
ITD’s primary responsibility is to design and operate a safe state highway system and through its Office of Traffic and Highway Safety to promote safe driving practices. Many other organizations and individuals share that commitment, including public safety officers, medical personnel, the insurance industry, trucking organizations and educators.
ITD's partners in sponsoring the Zero Deaths safety summit include:
“Achieving substantial reductions in the number of lives lost to traffic crashes in Idaho is more than a goal or priority,” Ekern said. “It is a necessity. We have the ability; we have the expertise; we have the desire. Now we must have results.”
For more information about the conference, visit the Zero Deaths Web site: http://www.webs1.uidaho.edu/highway_safety/