Icy roads and snowy conditions have made driving a challenge for BYU-Idaho students this winter.
Captain Randy Lewis, of the Rexburg Police Department, said winter is a difficult time for student drivers.
“When you take 18,000 students, and probably about three-quarters of them have vehicles, in such a confined area like Rexburg, congestion happens,” Captain Lewis said.
Captain Lewis said about 80 percent of the accidents that happen during the winter in Rexburg are caused by BYU-I students.
“If you drive 20 mph on a road that is supposed to be 20 mph, you might be driving too fast,” he said. “That speed may not be proper for road conditions. You can get cited for driving a speed that is too fast for conditions.”
Brooklyn Monson, a senior studying nursing, said she was ticketed even though she was driving under the legal speed limit.
“I was driving home for winter break, and I was driving a lot slower than the speed limit because the roads were covered in ice,” Monson said. “My car slipped on the ice, and when I called the police to report what happened, they said I was probably driving too fast and they gave me a ticket.”
Monson said her father is a police officer, and he helped her learn how to drive in the winter.
“He made sure I knew how to drive safely in all conditions,” Monson said. “Sometimes accidents happen though.”
Captain Lewis said students come to BYU-I from many places around the world, so many of these students may not have had prior experience driving in the snow.
“Parents call me and say that’s our responsibility to make sure their son or daughter are aware how to drive on the roads,” Captain Lewis said.
Captain Lewis said most accidents happen because people follow too closely to the car in front of them, and when it comes time to brake, they are unable to do so quickly because of ice on the road.
He said a lot of accidents that happen are hit and runs.
“Sometimes they don’t know they hit the car,” Captain Lewis said. “Other times they know they hit the car but don’t want to get in trouble.”
Captain Lewis said a wide range of injuries can result from car accidents.
“Lacerations and facial injuries are probably the most common in these accidents,” Captain Lewis said.
Captain Lewis said the most serious accidents happen at slower speeds.
“The slower the speed, the more injuries involved,” Captain Lewis said. “It’s hard to understand, but they don’t wear their seatbelts. They’re more careless because they’re going a little slower.”
Captain Lewis said there have been many fatalities in the past, but in the past few years, there have been no fatalities in Rexburg due to car crashes during the winter.
“We started to have a safety promotion and really concentrated on issuing citations for not yielding, unsafe driving and jaywalking, and that’s really helped,” Captain Lewis said.
He said he believes these promotions are why there have been less fatalities recently.
“Students just need to be more conscious of their surroundings and drive safely,” he said.