Idaho tries to deal with increase in teen driving deaths in summer. Here are the numbers

Teenage driving deaths in the summer months decreased nationwide from 2021 to 2022, but Idaho was one of the states that saw a spike in these traffic fatalities.

The state saw a 100% increase in deaths in June, July and August for drivers 15 to 20, with that number jumping from eight to 16, according to a report by USA Today Blueprint. Complete data is not yet available for 2023.

In Idaho, 57% of all fatalities for drivers in that age group occurred during the summer months, the report showed.

Idaho had more summer teen traffic fatalities than Kansas, Nebraska and Nevada, despite having a lower population. The state also saw a 50% increase in “back-to-school” deaths — traffic fatalities taking place in August and September, the report said.

“We didn’t look at individual factors involved in each of the summertime crashes in every state, but we did notice that this is happening in many states,” USA Today Blueprint Insurance managing editor Heidi Gollub told the Idaho Statesman. “A more than 50% increase in 12 states, and 21 states saw an increase of 10% in summertime fatalities.”

A 2022 report by the Idaho Transportation Department showed that for every 100 drivers 16-19, nine received a speeding ticket or similar infraction. Every 100 drivers ages 35-44 received just three.

Drivers 16-19 also were more likely to fail to stop at stop signs, to follow other vehicles too closely or to drive inattentively and recklessly, the report showed.

“Younger drivers, especially those 19 and younger, had violation rates well above the mean in areas shown to be major contributing factors in crashes,” that report noted.

Idaho, specifically the Treasure Valley, has way more vehicles on roads than it did five years ago. In January, the Idaho Transportation Department reported a 20-year high in traffic deaths overall, with more than 270 people killed statewide in 2023. In addition to drivers and passengers, that number included pedestrians and cyclists.

Last year, Ada County had a total of 31 traffic deaths, according to ITD, and 13 of those deaths occurred in Boise — compared to five in all of 2022.

Boise and Ada County officials are trying a proactive approach to the spike in fatalities. A Traffic Fatality Review Task Force, created last year, visits crash sites in person to assess what factors could have contributed to an accident, the Statesman previously reported. The goal is to find spots nearby that might have similar problems, so that those can be mitigated.

Idaho State Police are also aware of the increase in fatalities, and the agency is consistently taking action. The Idaho Office of Highway Safety is giving police departments, including ISP, grant funding for overtime shifts, which allows troopers to focus on possible issues even more, Capt. Michael Winans told the Statesman.

“We do targeted enforcement on seat belts, distracted driving, aggressive driving, impaired driving, and we add extra troopers during those mobilizations in order to combat those situations,” Winans said.

Between 2019 and 2022, speeding-related crashes increased by nearly 25% nationwide, according to Gollub. And with schools letting out for the summer and more teens on the roads, Gollub hopes parents remind them to slow down and take their time, given the propensity for accidents in June, July and August.

“I think the action needs to come from the drivers and potentially the parents encouraging the drivers,” Gollub said. “I am a parent of four young drivers and I am definitely encouraging them to slow down and stay focused and obey the rules of the road.”