Safety summit focuses on rural highways

The chance of being seriously injured or dying in a motor vehicle crash on a rural highway is significantly greater than on an urban highway.

More than 200 law enforcement officers and highway safety professionals learned why during a presentation delivered at a recent Highway Safety Summit by Prof. Nicholas Ward, with Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute.

Ward told summit participants in Pocatello that rural driving behavior often involves more speeding and alcohol use and less use of seat belts.

He told the group that changing rural highway fatality and injury statistics would require promoting a culture of rural highway traffic safety. Most of Idaho’s highways are classified as rural.

Attendees also participated in a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) review that concentrated on identifying motor vehicles that would require an operator to hold some form of a CDL.

Other topics covered during the summit included a law enforcement perspective on crash reduction, changes to Administrative License Suspension (ALS) rules, conducting a road safety audit and a look at the science behind retroreflectivity that helps drivers see signs and roadway markers better.

Sgt. Ted Piche, Lewiston Police Department, made a Line of Duty presentation to Officer Dennis Clark, Jerome Police Department during the safety summit. Clark was shot earlier this year following a high-speed chase.

This year’s summit was dedicated to Clark.

Photos: Sgt. Ted Piche presents a Line of Duty Award to Officer Dennis Clark (above right). Clark was blinded in one eye after being shot earlier this year following a high-speed chase. Mary Hunter, who retires this week as manager of the Office of Highway Safety, receives a purse made from seat belt strap material (right).

Published 5-13-2011