JEROME, Idaho (KLIX) – First responders in Idaho are being recognized this week, including those in the Magic Valley.

“These men and women are truly our unsung heroes on the highway,” Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said in a prepared statement. “They keep commerce in our state moving and ensure we get to work and back home on time. They work all hours of the day and night, and even on holidays to keep our families and loved ones safe.”

Area responders, who play a critical safety role managing traffic incidents, will be recognized Wednesday afternoon in Jerome as part of Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, according to the Idaho Transportation Department. Besides helping to save lives, first responders help fight rising costs by helping to clear roadways and protect drivers.

According to information provided by the American Automobile Association, for instance, as shared in a news release by ITD, the cost of traffic incidents has increased by 85 percent in the last four years. First responders, however, “help reduce those staggering costs — $6 million average societal cost for a fatal crash, and $126,000 on average for an injury crash. Those costs include lost earnings, medical bills, emergency services, property damage, and travel delays, among others.”

Traffic incident responders in Idaho have contributed substantially to the prompt treatment of patients, clearance of roadways, and increased mobility of travelers. Rubbernecking or blocked lanes from crashes account for up to a quarter of all congestion. Travelers can in turn protect responders by driving engaged and moving over when incident responders are present. Tragically, traffic incidents are the leading cause of death for EMS responders and law enforcement officers.

Otter said: “This week, and every week, I encourage motorists to help keep them safe, by slowing down and moving over when you see them doing their jobs.”

“If everyone does their part,” added ITD District Four Safety Compliance Officer Sarah Woolley, “it will go a long way in keeping traffic moving and ensuring the safety of both motorists and responders alike.”