Downtown Coeur d'Alene , Kootenai County. Courtesy of Quicksilver Photography.
TRAFFIC PATROL TEAM
The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Team was developed in the spring of 1998. The focus of the KCSO Traffic Team is to educate the motorists using the roadways within Kootenai County and enforce traffic laws and ordinances in an effort to reduce the number of traffic crashes on Kootenai County roads. The Idaho Transportation Department releases a variety of statistical data collected from crash reports throughout the year.
The 2013 statistics are not yet released, but in 2012, there were 21,402 crashes in Idaho; 2,124 in Kootenai County alone. That means there was a crash every 24.6 minutes, somewhere in the State. A person was injured in a crash every 47.9 minutes and a person was killed in a crash every 47.6 hours! Crashes effect more than just the people involved. There are far reaching financial impacts. These are referred to as economic costs. The estimated cost of Idaho crashes in 2012 was over $2.3 BILLION.
The Traffic Team is staffed by one Sergeant and three Deputies who have attended hundreds of hours of crash investigation schools, including Advanced Traffic Crash Investigation, Technical Collision Investigation, and Traffic Crash Reconstructionist. The KCSO Traffic Team responds to and investigates traffic related crashes ranging from minor damage “fender benders” to “fatal” crashes, where a person or persons involved in the crash are killed. The Team is on call at all times and can be paged at any hour of the day in the event of a serious injury or fatal crash.
The Team participates in many State Traffic Emphasis details throughout the year. These emphasis patrols are geared towards the detection and apprehension of impaired drivers, operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, aggressive drivers, distracted drivers (texting for example) and seat belt violators. Each of these areas contribute greatly to the economic and emotional costs created by crashes. All of these emphasis areas are part of the Idaho Transportation Department’s campaign titled, “Towards Zero Deaths”.
Although enforcement is in integral part of the Traffic Team’s mission, far greater effort is put forth in the realm of education. The Team actively participates in multiple programs and events designed to educate drivers, especially young ones, and reduce the overall number of crashes. One of these programs is the “Alive At 25” class that targets drivers aged 15-24 providing useful information for making positive driving decisions now and in the future. For more information on the “Alive At 25” program, please visit the website at aliveat25.us .
The Team also joins forces with the Kootenai County Substance Abuse Council to stage mock DUI crashes at High Schools throughout Kootenai County. Students participate in the mock scenes as impaired drivers as well as victims. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Team uses special training equipment such as the “Fatal Vision Goggles” the students wear that simulate different levels of alcoholic impairment.