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Reopening Idaho’s economy will put more cars on the road—right in time for ITD’s “100 Deadliest Days” this summer.

Though fewer people may be getting behind the wheel during the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean roads are safer, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Last Friday marked the start of what’s known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer”—the time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day when more drivers, especially teens, are killed in fatal crashes.

According to the ITD, a National Safety Council report shows a 14 percent increase in the rate of fatalities per miles driven in March nationwide, but a 28 percent drop in Idaho.

“It’s encouraging to see Idaho bucking this trend, but it is important to remember that this report looked at the month of March when Idaho was in its early stages of the stay-at-home order,” ITD Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson said. “We’re beginning to reopen the state and we’re seeing more cars on the roads right now. Unfortunately, we are seeing fatalities increase as well.”

Ninety-two Idaho residents lost their lives in vehicle crashes between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year, according to ITD.

“This year, with traffic rising as Idaho rebounds, there have been 24 fatalities since March 25,” the ITD stated.

“What makes summer months so dangerous is in part due to the larger number of vehicles on the roads,” Tomlinson said. “We are seeing that correlation now as we look at our crash fatalities from March to April, and now into May as more drivers are out.”

According to a Wednesday AAA press release, new teen drivers 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than adults.

“Risky driving behavior makes the summer months especially dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers and the other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians they will encounter on the roads,” AAA stated.

Leading teen risk factors, according to the AAA foundation, include driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway, texting, red-light running, aggressive driving and lane changing, drowsy driving and driving without a seatbelt.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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