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ITD: Collision Logging Error Leads to New, Simple System

HWY 95 INVESTIGATION.jpg

Thursday afternoon officials with the Idaho Transportation Department found multiple mistakes were discovered in data on the intersection of Highway 95 and Nez Perce Road. Now they say they've implemented a simple fix to clear up any confusion.

With over 20,000 crashes every year, ITD tries to identify problem areas using a list of high-accident locations, also known as HAL. Employees in District 2 discovered errors regarding one ewiston intersection notorious for crashes.

Traffic engineer Jared Hopkins explains, "The system is accurate, it's just that very specific locations, such as where you have a loop, that's where we've noticed discrepancies."

On Nez Perce Road, which does make a loop, lies that discrepancy. During a KLEW investigation in June, ITD data showed that more crashes happened here at the east entrance to the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge than here at the west side. However crashes that KLEW has covered in recent years have all been here at the west side.

ISP Corporal David Wesche surveys the damage of a crash in that location, explaining how one driver failed to yield to oncoming highway traffic. "It appears he was turning left," he points out.

The day of ITD's discovery, that crash on the west side injured two people. Hours later a quick cross-check on police crash reports confirmed the error.

Hopkins explains the mistake as, "Some of the crashes that were in the system as Nez Perce Road West ended up being at Nez Perce Road East and vice versa." He said the HAL system mixed up some of the crash locations due to the intersections sharing a name. Hopkins said the issue only applies to these specific intersections, but the problem could occur if other roadways share name similarities.

There is a simple solution, however. "One thing we're going to do is change the names of the roads to simply Nez Perce Road West and Nez Perce Road East, and I've already talked with state police and they're going to start reporting that with their crashes," said Hopkins.

It's a good thing, because this has been a problem area for police and drivers.

Hopkins said corrected numbers show that, "In the last five years, that's 2012 to 2016, we've seen eight crashes at the west intersection and three at the east."

This crash frequency has prompted ITD and the Nez Perce tribe to take action, and now steps are being taken to curb the problem.

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