The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer are rapidly drawing to a close, and tragically, they’ve once again lived up to their name.
There have been 93 deaths on Idaho roads since Memorial Day, surpassing the 91 that occurred last year during the same timeframe, said Bill Kotowski, public information officer for the Idaho Transportation Department. The year as a whole has also seen an increase with 160 deaths since January compared to 156 in the same timeframe last year.
And the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer — the period between Memorial and Labor Days — isn’t even over yet.
Hoping to prevent more tragedies from occurring, law enforcement officers throughout the state are expected to be out in force during the holiday weekend. Idaho State Police and Idaho Transportation Department officials say officers will pay close attention to drivers’ behaviors and will especially watch for impaired drivers.
“The primary goal is to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roadway this holiday weekend through education and strict enforcement,” according to a state police news release. “This means a violator’s chances of being caught, arrested and convicted are increased as a result of these efforts.”
Officers will be working overtime over the weekend, officials said, adding that their pay will come from the Idaho Department of Transportation’s Office of Highway Safety.
“Drivers suspected of intoxicated driving will be subject to having a search warrant issued for a blood draw if they attempt to refuse requests for a breath sample; prosecutors and judges are standing by to issue those warrants,” the news release states.
The Office of Highway Safety and law enforcement agencies will also use Facebook and Twitter to update Idahoans on the number of DUI arrests occurring, officials say.
But they are hoping officers won’t have to make those arrests.
They’re urging anyone who plans to drink — even just a little — over the weekend to designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a rideshare program to get home safely.
“Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices,” the news release states. “SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.”
Officials also encourage people to take the keys away from friends who have been drinking and help them find a ride home. And they ask citizens to contact law enforcement if they see anyone who may be driving impaired.
“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” Colonel Kedrick Wills, Idaho State Police director, said in the news release. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party and every time we make that decision, we’re saving lives. That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses.”