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2011 Marked Lowest Number of State Highway Collisions in Decade

Officials credit the improvement largely to better driver behavior.

Washington drivers are crashing their vehicles in lower numbers than at any time in the past decade.

The good news was announced Friday in a release issued jointly between the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State Patrol.

Fewer than 99,000 collisions occurred in 2011, down from 2001 and down significantly from the most recent peak in 2005 at 123,000 collisions.

“Drivers get the lion’s share of credit for this improvement,” said Darrin Grondel, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. “Seat belts and air bags can reduce fatalities, but a reduction in collisions means there has been a marked improvement in driver behavior.”

 “Our state continues to be a leader in traffic safety because so many Washingtonians have joined the Target Zero Team with a goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries,” Grondel said.

Along with drivers, officials credit the coordinated efforts of state and local agencies brought together through our state’s Target Zero program, a collective effort of traffic safety experts focused on finding out what causes collisions and how to prevent them.

“Highway safety continues to be at the core of our efforts,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, noting how highway safety features such as rumble strips and cable guardrail continue to prevent collisions, reduce injuries, and save lives.

“We are encouraged by the numbers but believe we can do even better. It’s going to take a continued commitment from all us – highway planners, drivers, plus our partners in law enforcement and driver education,” she said.

The 2011 numbers are considered preliminary until Dec. 31, but officials don’t expect them to change significantly. All categories of collisions are down, across the board.

  • Injury collisions were down by about 20 percent, from the peak year of 2005.
  • DUI-related collisions are down about 21 percent.
  • Fatal collisions are down by about 30 percent from the peak year of 2005.

“This supports what we’ve long believed,” said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “There are no accidents in traffic. Each of us has the power to reduce collisions simply by making better choices.”

Batiste believes the three most important choices are slowing down, paying attention to the road and driving sober.

“We don’t have to accept collisions as an inevitable fact of life,” Batiste said.

By the Numbers

Year

Total Collisions

Fatal Collisions

Fatalities

Injury Collisions

Alcohol Impaired

2001

113,908

575

649

43,782

6,389

2002

113,696

586

658

42,542

6,621

2003

113,313

540

600

40,715

6,379

2004

114,268

511

567

40,319

6,876

2005

123,158

582

649

43,421

7,392

2006

122,172

578

633

41,962

7,482

2007

118,829

430

571

39,706

7,325

2008

110,494

481

521

36,147

6,815

2009

103,008

455

492

34,620

6,481

2010

101,887

423

460

33,673

6,021

2011*

98,881

425

454

32,725

5,951

 *2011 numbers are preliminary until Dec. 31, 2012

Tell Us: As the youngest members of your family get behind the wheel as newly licensed drivers, what good practices or words of wisdom do you give to them about staying safe on the roads?

Jeffery Owen September 23, 2012 at 07:53 PM
So why do we need to continue borrowing money from China to improve infrastructure, ie a roundabout in five corners?
dorimonsonfan September 23, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Speaking of roundabouts and traffic safety, I think we should rename union hill road hwy 420. Whoever decided to reduce the speed limit from 40 to 15 and put a roundabout there must be drinking lunch with the 520 planners. traffic at U.H. rd and 196th flowed great before the euro intersection was installed last weekend. now there is always a backup during peak traffic hours. Please, please take that silly thing out before it causes lots of accidents.
Local Guy September 24, 2012 at 03:22 PM
States with medical marijuana statutes have seen on average a 9% drop in impairment related related traffic fatalities. Attributed to marijuana being a choice over, not in addition to, alcohol, and resulting tendencies of either on impairment (http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112) 4autoinsurance.org study on marijuana impaired drivers results in "10 reasons why marijuana users are safer drivers". (http://www.4autoinsurancequote.com/uncategorized/reasons-why-marijuana-users-are-safe-drivers/)
Greg Johnston September 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Local Guy, that would also be worth posting as a comment on our poll about I-502, the initiative to decriminalize pot: http://kirkland.patch.com/articles/poll-should-i-502-go-up-in-smoke
Jeffery Owen September 24, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Please explain to me why we try to deter smoking by printing gross pictures of the results of smoking on a pack of cigs and then at the same time legalize smoking peyote. And does anyone disagree that smoking cigs is often the beginning of a trail that can lead to heroin ussage?

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