(Note: This is the first of two parts on Idaho’s 2005 motor vehicle collision report. Part II will describe programs and initiatives intended to lower the collision and fatality rates on Idaho highways.)
He is someone’s son, grandson, brother, or best friend, but as a teenager he’s also a prime candidate to be one of Idaho’s next highway crash statistics, according to the 2005 Idaho Traffic Collisions report.
Young drivers, ages 15 to 19, are nearly three times as likely to be involved in a fatal or injury crash as all other drivers, according to the report. While the state’s numbers of male and female licensed drivers showed as about equal, men were more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision.
ITD’s Office of Highway Safety produces the report each year, providing a description of motor vehicle collision characteristics for Idaho that are drawn from the department’s state collision database.
Drivers who were 19 years old in 2005 were the first group of drivers subject to the requirements of the state’s Graduated Drivers License law that took effect in 2001. The report noted that while the number of young drivers in crashes seemed to have decreased, the overall number of young licensed drivers decreased by larger or equal percentages.
The report went on to conclude that young drivers are still “over-involved in crashes and the GDL has not had had the desired effect of reducing the involvement of young drivers in crashes.”
Overall, fatality and injury rates caused by motor vehicle crashes on Idaho highways generally have declined over the past decade, according to the report. However, the state’s fatality rate remains well above of the national rate, which generally is true of rural states.
Idaho’s fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2005 was 1.84 while the national fatality rate was 1.46. The number of motor vehicle collisions in the state decreased slightly in 2005 from 28,332 to 28,238. At the same time, the number of fatalities from motor vehicle collisions jumped 6 percent, from 260 in 2004 to 275.
Last year, single vehicle collisions represented a third of all collisions but accounted for more than half of all fatal collisions. Of the 143 fatal single-vehicle crashes, 129 occurred on rural roadways. In Idaho, 90 percent of the total road mileage was classified as rural roadway.
This year’s report was organized around focus areas adopted by the Idaho Traffic Safety Commission for the Highway Safety Grant Programs:
A little more than 36 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in the state were the result of impaired driving. Of the 100 people killed in impaired driving crashes, 86 percent were either the impaired driver, a person riding with an impaired driver, or an impaired pedestrian.
The state’s observed seat belt use reached a record high of 76 percent in 2005, but still fell short of the national rate of 82 percent. Ada County and Nez Perce County showed the highest rate of seat belt use at more than 80 percent while Bingham County in eastern Idaho showed the lowest at about 49 percent.
Drivers between the ages of 15 and 22 were responsible for one-third of aggressive driving collisions. The youngest drivers, ages 15 to 19, were more than four times as likely to be involved in aggressive driving collisions as all other drivers.
Collisions involving motorcycles continued to rise in 2005 with more than half of all motorcycle collisions involving a single motorcycle. Twenty-six motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle collisions last year.
Nine pedestrians and three bicyclists also were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2005.
January, November and December had the highest number of total collisions but July had the highest number of fatal collisions. While more frequent, collisions occurring in the winter months tend to be less severe because drivers slow down and are more cautious when encountering adverse weather and road conditions.
A copy of this year’s report is available at http://www.itd.idaho.gov – select “Highways,” then “Office of Highway Safety Home Page,” then “Crash Info & Statistics.”