Stay Safe Behind the Wheel

By: John Tomlinson, Highway Safety Manager, Idaho Transportation Department

The days are longer and the nights are warmer which means summer has made its way to Idaho. Okay, summer officially begins on June 21 but despite what the meteorologists tell you, the summer travel season is well underway having kicked off during Memorial Day weekend. The holiday also marked the beginning to one of the deadliest seasons on Idaho roads.

The time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend is often referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days of Driving. This reference is due to an uptick in fatal crashes across the country. There were 234 traffic fatalities in Idaho in 2018, 102 of those people were killed in crashes during this time frame.

There are many factors that can contribute to this trend – the weather is nicer so drivers may let their guard down, school is out so more teens are out driving, a construction zone might catch a driver off guard. Simply put, more cars on the roads mean there is more opportunity for crashes.

All too often it’s the usual suspects; impaired driving, aggressive driving, distracted driving or failing to wear a seat belt that leave Idahoans dead or seriously injured. Last year during the 100 Deadliest Days 37 people who died weren’t wearing seat belts, 35 people were killed in aggressive driving crashes, 34 died in impaired driving crashes, and 18 people died because of inattentive driving.

Summer is a time to enjoy everything Idaho has to offer and the Gem State definitely has a lot to offer. But as you plan that big summer getaway here are some ideas to help you plan a safe trip:

  • Buckle up. Seat belts have a 50 percent effective rate of preventing a serious or fatal injury. By clicking your seat belt you are significantly increasing your odds of surviving a crash.
  • Drive sober. In 2017, impaired driving was a factor in nearly one in three fatal crashes. Taxis, ride shares and designated drivers have made it easier than ever to get a sober ride home.
  • Drive kind. More than half of all traffic crashes in Idaho in 2017 involved some sort of aggressive behavior. These include speeding, tailgating, failing to signal a turn, and many more behaviors. Give yourself time to safely arrive and please be aware of drivers around you.
  • Drive engaged. Distracted driving is a growing problem on our roads. Distractions are everywhere and can easily take our mind off the road.  Make the decision to be an engaged driver and focus on the drive.
  • Drive alert. Days are longer and the sun can drain your energy making you drowsy behind the wheel – this could slow your reaction time and affect your ability to safely operate your vehicle. If you start to feel drowsy behind the wheel, stop and rest.

Throughout the summer, highway safety professionals will take part in media campaigns and enforcement efforts to prevent crashes. Those efforts are an important factor in keeping our roads safe but what’s more important is drivers making the decision to do the right thing every time they get behind the wheel.

Alcohol Awareness Month

By: Catie Wiseman, Education Manager, Idaho State Liquor Division

Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. The good news? We can all do our part to prevent alcohol misuse or abuse. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, the Idaho State Liquor Division encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

In 2017, there were 245 fatal crashes in Idaho1 and 24.7% of those were the result of drunk driving2. Over 5,450 people were arrested for driving under the influence with 48 of those people being under the age of 213. These numbers do not include arrests for drunkenness, domestic violence incidents where alcohol is present or other various social harms that are happening to our friends and family members throughout our community.

If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:

  • Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
  • Don’t drink when you are upset.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
  • Avoid places where people drink a lot.
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink.

If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking and/or behavior when drinking, encourage your friend or family member to seek help. If you are in Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare’s Idaho’s Careline 2-1-1 is a great first start. Anyone can call 2-1-1 or visit for alcohol and substance abuse resources.

Listed below are some other resources available to you at the local, state and federal levels:


1Idaho Transportation Department, Office of Highway Safety, 2017 Idaho Traffic Crashes Report
2Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility – 2017 State Facts
3Idaho Transportation Department, Office of Highway Safety, 2017 Idaho Traffic Crashes Report

Celebrating Responsibly

By: Catie Wiseman, Education Manager, Idaho State Liquor Division

Idaho sets the perfect holiday stage for us every year.  We hear songs like, “Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland” and “O Christmas Tree” that put us all in the holiday spirit. We also hear, however, many songs that reference and promote alcohol and being drunk during the holidays such as “Drunk on Christmas,” “One More Christmas Beer” and “All I Want for Christmas is Whiskey.” They tell us to “Eat, Drink and be Merry,” and many of us do. In fact, 16% of adults say they drink more than usual during the holidays and 97% of adults went to work hung over after a party, or know someone who did1. If you decide to consume alcohol this holiday season, it is important to know how to do so in a fun and responsible way.

First, it is estimated that 97+ million Americans will hit the roads between December 23 and January 12.  It is illegal to drive with a 0.05% blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher which most women can reach by having just 2 standard drinks; for men, it is around 3 standard drinks. It can be easy to drink more when socializing, so you are encouraged to plan ahead.

Second, it is important to know what you are drinking, how much you are drinking and over what period of time. The standard used when relating alcohol equivalency is: one 12 fl. oz. beer (5% alcohol) = one 5 fl. oz. glass of wine (12% alcohol) = one 1.5 fl. oz. shot of 80-proof liquor (40% alcohol). This can be a bit misleading, however, as many cocktails have 2.0-2.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof liquor in them so if the standard equivalency rule is used, you will actually consume almost two drinks in one. Also, as the proof of the alcohol gets higher, or the amount of time lessons between drinks, the effects on the body can change dramatically.

Third, mixing alcohol and medication is a no-no. Serious harm can come to you and others so do not combine the two.

Fourth, there are so many opportunities to be with friends and family during the holiday and it is fine and legal to enjoy alcohol if you are over the age of 21; and it can be a lot of fun when done responsibly. is the state of Idaho’s retail website where you can find more information about party planning, drink recipes and product availability around the state. It is a great tool to have when planning your holiday event.

Last, but certainly not least, if you are driving, entertaining or headed to a family function with children, make sure there are non-alcoholic drinks available. A fun and easy drink is a Cranberry Lime Mule Mocktail. Start with a copper cup (if available), fill with ice, add one part cranberry juice, two parts non-alcoholic ginger beer or ginger ale, add a squeeze of lime, then garnish with a lime and a few cranberries. Delicious and festive!

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe and fun holiday season and make sure to keep singing -“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Let’s Start the New Year Right!”

1 Harris Interactive Survey for Caron Treatment Centers, 2017.

Summer Food Safety

These three simple tips for summer food safety apply all year round! However they are especially important to keep in mind during the summer months when warmer temperatures cause foodborne germs to flourish.

Use a Thermometer: A thermometer is the number one way to ensure that foods are cooked to the correct temperature to destroy germs that can cause food poisoning. The color of a food, like the inside of a hamburger, is not a reliable way to check that it has been cooked to the proper temperature.

  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F

Keep ‘em Separated: …raw foods and cooked foods, that is! To prevent cross-contamination keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in your refrigerator.  It is a best practice to keep raw foods on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices do not drip on any ready-to-eat food or produce. Never reuse items that have come in contact with raw meat or poultry for cooked food.  Always use clean plates and utensils when serving foods once they’re cooked.

Avoid the Danger Zone: Most bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. This temperature range is known as the “Danger Zone.” If left in the Danger Zone bacteria in food can reach dangerous levels. That is why it is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Never let perishable foods sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.

More information and resources about summer food safety can be found at

About those leftovers…

It was a warm sunny day with highs in the 80’s. Perfect day. The BBQ was great; now it’s over…everyone has left. You’re faced with the leftovers. The green bean salad and chicken have been out on the table for three hours. Do you throw them away, refrigerate them in shallow pans immediately, or just throw some saran wrap on them, shove in the fridge, and quit worrying? Check the guidelines! How about those hamburgers? Can cooked ground beef still be pink inside? Read the answer. Do you wonder about that pink meat on your piece of chicken? Is it safe to eat? I know we’ve all cheated a bit in the area of leftovers and food safety. I think about that every time I attend a potluck… you can drive yourself crazy wondering how safe the food is! For more information on food safety visit the USDA’s Food Safe Families. What tips do you have to make food safety easy during the summer months?

Recreational Water Illnesses

Recreational Water Illnesses, or RWI’s, was a new term for me. RWI’s are caused by germs spread through contaminated water in swimming pools, water parks, water play areas, hot tubs, decorative water fountains, oceans, lakes and rivers. RWI’s shouldn’t ‘dampen’ your plans to get in the water this summer  – it’s just good business to take preventive measures whenever you can. Knowing some facts and teaching your kids an ounce of prevention could save you some grief. From inflatable kiddie pools to those hot tubs at hotels and recreation areas – get the facts. Enjoy the hot summer fun and the cool water. Don’t forget the sun screen!

Go With Your Own Glow

Tanning is out. Being cool with the skin you’re in, is in! Learn to create your own glow without hours in the sun or time in a ‘skin cooker’ (aka tanning bed). If you have teens, young women, and young men in your life who are ‘beauty’ conscious, clue them in to what happens when sun ages skin – it’s the look of leather. So, where did this all begin – this fascination with being tan? Check out the video… What things have you done/said to bring the skin cancer and skin aging messages home to the young people in your life? Share what’s worked for you…