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Deadly car crashes dropped in Idaho in 2020

"People have been looking forward to this summer for a long time, and we all need to do our part to stay safe."

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho saw a decrease in fatal crashes across the state last year as fewer people in the state made daily drives to work or school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In all, traffic deaths fell by 7%, according to AAA.

"In a year when many people were studying, working, and playing at home, we're thrilled that we were able to make some progress on safe driving here in Idaho.  But most states went in the opposite direction," says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  "It's a good reminder to get rid of some bad habits so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable summer."

Idaho was just one of just nine states to see a drop in crash deaths, despite the nationwide reduction in vehicle miles traveled. Across the U.S., car wreck fatalities went up by 8%. More than 42,000 people died in crashes across the country in 2020, officials say, the most fatalities in 13 years.

AAA is encouraging all Idahoans to continue the downward trend of fatal accidents by practicing safe driving and wearing a seatbelt. Nearly 91% of U.S. residents and 86% of Idaho say they wear a seatbelt during daytime driving, while those numbers drop later at night.

"As we've learned, a body in motion is subject to the laws of physics – if you're in a collision, it simply isn't possible to stay in the vehicle using strength alone," Conde said.  "There are three elements to a crash – the vehicle striking something, the passengers striking objects in the vehicle, and internal organs being jolted.  A seat belt can significantly reduce the risk of injury and death."

Young adults, men, and back-seat passengers are the most likely to not be wearing a seatbelt in a fatal wreck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As more Idahoans get vaccinated and COVID-19 numbers drop, many people are resuming their normal commutes and travel plans, AAA says.

"Please remember that with more people on the roads, there isn't a lot of empty space to maneuver," Conde said.  "Please watch your speed, communicate your intentions clearly, and increase your following distance during times of heavy traffic, glare, and bad weather.  People have been looking forward to this summer for a long time, and we all need to do our part to stay safe."

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