Idaho drivers call Highway 16 dangerous

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by NISHI GUPTA / Idaho's NewsChannel 7

NWCN.com

Posted on November 5, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 5 at 10:23 AM

EMMETT, Idaho -- A head-on collision that sent three people to the hospital Tuesday is the latest crash on Highway 16 and the last straw for many who drive on it.

We've received viewer calls and emails and took them to the state. Some want to lower speed limits. Others want no passing zones. After we talked to the state, we were told it is open to both those ideas.

With more than 8,000 cars traveling Highway 16 daily, errors happen. Accidents like Tuesday's head on collision, a rollover death in April and a bicyclist injury in July have people scrutinizing its safety.

"Every morning when we get up to go do our morning commute, people are nervous", Gwen Earls-Morton said.  She drives it often and says people drive faster than the 65 miles per hour speed limit and take chances by passing cars on its curves. One viewer called Highway 16 in that area a death trap and wrote, "The little wooden crosses will continue to show up unless something is done."

"If conditions warrant and it is a justifiable action then it is something that can be done", Reed Hollinshead of the Idaho Department of Transportation said. He says if there's enough public interest, traffic engineers may study Highway 16 near Emmett. There is already a mix of passing and no passing zones, and drivers are warned to be extra careful.

"The failure to yield, the following too close, going over the posted speed limit, trying to pass multiple vehicles when it's not safe to do that, that's all impatience. You're just not wanting to wait," Hollinshead said.

Earls-Morton agrees that drivers need to change but until that happens, she hopes the state will step in and lower the speed limit or make more no passing zones on Highway 16. "I'm certainly a lot more cautious in that area, and when I see people passing, I slow down let them get pass me so I don't end up in an accident," Earls-Morton said. 

From 2004 to 2008 there were four deaths on Highway 16.

If you have safety concerns about Highway 16, the state wants to hear from you. 

 

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