There were 417 traffic fatalities through the end of July, surpassing the 413 fatalities at the same point in time last year
The Center Square Washington
The Washington State Patrol and Washington Traffic Safety Commission have issued a joint statement warning that motorist fatalities have, with five months remaining in the year, surpassed 2022 levels.
There were 417 traffic fatalities through the end of July, surpassing the 413 fatalities at the same point in time last year.
“We have seen more multi-fatality crashes in 2023, which is making this a historically deadly year. We are announcing these very preliminary figures because we need everyone’s help right now. Driving sober, driving focused, respecting speed limits and buckling up are the four best ways to save a life,” said WTSC Director Shelly Baldwin in a Wednesday news release.
If the current trend continues, Washington is on track to surpass the 715 fatalities it saw in 2022, the deadliest year for Evergreen State motorists since 1990.
Another grim finding coming out of these preliminary figures: individual motor vehicle crashes are claiming more lives.
“While more total lives have been lost, there have been fewer deadly crash incidents so far in 2023 compared to 2022. This means deadly crashes are resulting in more deaths per crash,” the news release reads.
“Saving lives on our highways involves everyone’s participation – and that includes passengers. Driver decisions are an obvious factor in fatal collisions, but passengers have a duty to ensure their own safety by always choosing to buckle up,” said WSP Chief John Batiste said in the news release.
WSP is nearing the end of its “Surviving Summer” campaign urging motorists to “do their part” to avoid behaviors labeled the “fatal four: impairment, distraction, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt.
According to the statistics, more than 75% of fatal traffic incidents in 2022 involved one or more of these four behaviors.
WSP has announced additional patrols for the Labor Day weekend.
“We’ve seen an alarming increase in crashes or near misses in our work zones – putting both our crews and travelers’ lives at risk,” WSDOT spokesperson Christina Werner told The Center Square via email.
“Our maintenance crews, contractors, tow truck drivers and emergency service responders are dying or being severely injured as a direct result of drivers engaging in riskier behavior like speeding (in excess of 100 miles per hour), impairment or road rage,” she added.
The news release ended on a note of hope.
“The power to save lives is in the hands of every driver on our roads,” Baldwin said. “Going into Labor Day and the final four months of 2023, we still have time to change this trend.”
This report was first published by The Center Square Washington.
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