an agenda for life –
Leaders from throughout Idaho joined national experts this week at Boise State University to begin creating an agenda for life – a comprehensive statewide strategy for reducing the number of deaths on highways, roads and streets.
“Every day, in homes across Idaho, the families and friends of motor vehicle accident victims bear the anguish of needless injuries and loss of life,” Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said in videotaped opening remarks for the “Governor’s Highway Safety Summit: Toward Zero Deaths.” He was testifying before a House committee in Washington, D.C. on the role of the National Guard and was unable to speak at the safety summit.
“More than 200 Idahoans are likely to lose their lives on our highways this year. That is simply unacceptable,” the governor added.
Last year, 260 individuals lost their life in Idaho traffic crashes, a decline of more than 11 percent from the pervious year when crashes claimed 293.
“But we can do more. And, that is why I look forward to working with you to help achieve our goal of moving “toward zero deaths” on Idaho’s highways. It is time to act decisively. It is time that highway safety becomes more than just our highest priority – that it becomes our greatest achievement,” Kempthorne added.
“How many deaths are acceptable?” Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Chuck Winder asked rhetorically in his opening comments. “What if the death is your spouse or your child?”
He said the transportation board will continue to support legislative changes related to seat belt use, distracted and impaired driving and improving driver behavior.
“The department wants to hear your insights and concerns,” Winder told participants. “We will continue to demonstrate a financial commitment toward improving safety one state, one county, one city and one highway at a time… At this conference we will talk about the progress we’ve made and the progress that still needs to be made.”
The morning agenda included:
In summarizing the morning presentations, ITD Director David Ekern challenged participants to define a safety program and bring an investment plan back to the transportation board for consideration.
He urged the audience not to abandon the mission but to build on past advances. The zero deaths plan is not the product, he insisted. “We want to build on what we have learned and make it a living effort. This is a process, not a product.”
Following a luncheon presentation by Kathy Swanson, director of the Office of Highway Safety for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, conference participants divided into five working rooms in the Student Union Building to share safety ideas from the grassroots level.
The Transporter will provide a look at conference outcomes after they have been processed.