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25 RURAL HIGHWAY SAFETY ON THE RATHDRUM PRAIRIE.
  1. A. Parsons
  1. University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

Abstract

Purpose of Study Rathdrum, Idaho is a town whose population has grown by nearly 20% in the last 5 years. The increased population has burdened North Idaho's already congested rural highway system, and the communities are thus at increased risk for motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. This project was designed to explore the risk factors for collisions and implement an educational and community based intervention to reduce rural driving hazards.

Methods A review of Idaho's crash statistics was conducted, as well as an investigation of previous prioritization of safety in the area. Community experts from the health department and various clinics were interviewed concerning possible solutions. A PubMed search was conducted to identify specific techniques for reducing collisions and fatalities on rural highways.

Results Three specific concerns were focused upon to reduce risk: use of safety belts, drowsy and distracted driving, and speed limit compliance. A brochure was created and posted at several community clinics as well as with the Panhandle Health Department to educate the public about risk reduction. A letter was written to the editor of the Coeur d'Alene Press to encourage community involvement and to advocate for a primary seat belt law in Idaho.

Conclusion Educational approaches to rural driving safety are a step toward prevention of unnecessary deaths. Long-term solutions to these issues must involve community members such as law enforcement officers, the Idaho Transportation Department, and physicians themselves.

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