July opened with death stalking Idaho roads.  As I write this, over recent days 15 people have died as a result of traffic accidents.  Law enforcement officers refer to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the deadliest days.  What happened in July is beyond all the worst expectations.

Law enforcement is planning a larger effort at traffic safety.  You’ll likely see more troopers, deputies, and police between now and the end of the month.  This is at a time when there are staffing shortages in many communities.  A decision has been made to use whatever resources can be found available if it keeps people alive.

There are a few factors you can identify for the increased mayhem.  More people are coming to Idaho as a summer vacation destination.  This increased during the pandemic and tourism has continued to grow.  Perhaps a larger cause is people looking at smartphones as they’re driving.  This is a year-round concern for law enforcement.  A smaller cause may be more people driving under the influence of marijuana.  As neighboring states have legalized the drug, some of the traffic issues have migrated to Idaho.

Short of staying home, you can be vigilant while driving.  Keep an eye on other vehicles.  This week I had a drive home where a car behind me tailgated for several blocks.  I braked slowly and well in advance of the lights.  Eventually, the other guy took a left turn on a side street.  I was ready to do the same had he remained so close.  The driver appeared to be a teenager.  He was so close I could get a good look in my rearview mirror.  Parents, that’s another point.  If you know your kids aren’t ready, don’t give them the keys.

By the way, on Monday the 24th, 3700 North (Orchard or Sugar Factory Road) will be closed for paving between Blue Lakes Boulevard and Eastland Drive.

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