TWIN FALLS — Summertime marks the end of school, and for many families, it's time to hit the road and go on vacation.
But it also signifies the "100 Deadliest Days.." With the increased number of travelers on the road following COVID-19, deadly crashes are on the rise.
“Since the start of the 100 deadliest days this year, we’re only about two weeks in now, and we’ve already seen 17 people lose their lives," said Jillian Garrigues, spokesperson for Idaho Transportation Department. "It’s off to a really tragic start this summer.”
The number of fatal car crashes since the deadliest days started this year is higher than in 2020 and 2019. In 2020 there were 13 deaths, and in 2019, there were 11 by this time.
Even outside the deadliest days, the number of fatal collisions has increased. In 2021 there have been 84 deaths from January to today. In 2020 there were 69, and in 2019 there had been 78.
With the increase in fatal collisions, the Idaho Transportation Department and the Twin Falls County Sheriff's office attribute numerous factors to the cause of these accidents.
“Distracted driving, impaired driving, just not paying attention at all," said Patrol Dpt. Brook Prudent. "Cell phones are a big thing, the legislature is cracking down pretty hard on cell phone use, and we all still see people using their cell phones.”
Officials encourage drivers to take preventative measures to decrease their chances of getting into an accident.
“The big thing is, with the distractions try to eliminate them as much as you can," said Prudent. "Give yourself extra time when you’re traveling. Don’t try to plan everything by the minute especially when you’re driving for the roadway purposes, get there safe, slow down.”
For people who may be drinking, the Idaho Transportation Department and the Sheriff's office strongly recommend having a designated driver.
Perhaps one of the biggest things people can do, which both the Sheriff's office and ITD are reinforcing is to wear a seat belt.
“We know from studies that wearing your seat belt increases your chance of surviving a crash by 50%," said Garrigues. "So, you’ve got some great odds to protect yourself and it’s just one of the easiest, simplest things you can do.”
The Twin Falls County Sheriff's and the Idaho Transportation Department are also doing their part to try and ensure the safety of drivers and reduce the risk of an accident.
“We’re going to have extra deputies out on the road as well as ISP is going to have extra troopers and the city guys are going to be out as well just trying to enforce a lot of those traffic issues that we’re seeing,” said Prudent.
The Idaho Transportation Department is also working with local law enforcement, but they are doing more to try and raise awareness.
“We have billboards up on the highway’s that you'll see," said Garrigues. "We have social media ads going out to where you’ll see videos and different kinds of messaging.”