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Impairment remains the most common factor in traffic deaths


Last updated 6/18/2020 at 11:36am

Traffic safety leaders in Washington have released an updated version of Target Zero, the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, as Washington begins transitioning to the governor’s Safe Start proclamation.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission in a news release, Target Zero hopes to eliminate traffic-related deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

“Edmonds PD supports any efforts to reduce traffic- related deaths and serious injuries,” said Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure.

“Locally, our traffic unit and patrol squads have been responsive to locations that our residents are voicing concerns about. Deployment of a radar trailer or providing education or enforcement in those areas of concern has helped us support the goal of safer roadways.”

The plan includes five new initiatives that range from improving multicultural communication with diverse communities, strengthening licensing requirements and integrating new safety and autonomous vehicle technology.

“In light of an increase in traffic deaths in recent years, enacting Target Zero initiatives is more important than ever,” said Pam Pannkuk, acting director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).

“In response, traffic safety partners in Washington have created an updated Target Zero plan that is innovative, includes new initiatives and is action-focused.”

The five new initiatives included in the plan are:

• Leverage Washington’s traffic safety culture: Enlist and encourage the majority of Washingtonians who believe in and practice traffic safety to positively influence the smaller group who engage in riskier behavior

• Focus on health equity and multicultural communications: Create understanding of the impact of socio-economic factors on traffic safety and creating communications to effectively reach diverse audiences

• Update cooperative automated transportation: Harness advancements in automated technology to reduce crash potential

• Prevention through safe systems approach: Reduce the potential for fatalities or serious injuries through a multidisciplinary approach through a focus on speed, infrastructure, vehicles, and all transportation system users

• Identify best practices in licensing and regulation: Emphasize resources needed in minority or low-income communities

Since the previous update of Target Zero plan was completed in 2016, traffic deaths have increased 23 percent (2015-2017). Impairment remains the most common factor in traffic deaths, with the number of drivers impaired by more than one substance (usually alcohol and cannabis) increasing by 15 percent per year between 2012 and 2016.

Washington currently has a strong traffic safety culture. For example, the state’s seat-belt use rate is one of the best in the nation at 93 percent. And most people (78 percent) do not drive after drinking.


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