Report: Statewide traffic deaths reach historic low

March 31, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. March 31, 2011

The number of deaths on Washington roadways reached a historic low last year: 448, a decline from the 492 deaths in 2009.

Washington Traffic Safety Commission officials said 2010 marked the safest year ever on Washington roads. The number of deaths could increase slightly as the commission continues to receive reports.

Under a highway safety plan called Target Zero, the state aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Washington during the next 19 years. Officials set a goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030.

“The lives saved are a true testament to the effectiveness of Washington’s comprehensive and integrated approach to traffic safety: the Target Zero plan,” commission Director Lowell Porter said in a statement Wednesday.

Developed in 2000, Target Zero identifies traffic safety needs and provides strategies to achieve the goals.

“Washington’s traffic-safety community continues to achieve traffic safety goals by using data to set priorities, identifying problems where the most progress can be realized, investing in strategies that work and aggressively evaluating outcomes through continuous performance measurement,” Porter continued.

Target Zero also includes public education, safety engineering to improve roadways and vehicles, timely response by emergency medical personnel, and strong enforcement of traffic safety laws.

“We saw a lot of improvement in 2010, but there is more work to be done,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “Troopers will continue to take swift action on the three violations that we know take the most lives: speeding, impaired driving and the failure to wear seat belts. Eliminating those three violations would, just by themselves, get us most of the way to Target Zero.”

State Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond said strategic highway safety projects and other Department of Transportation programs play key roles in traffic safety.

“Through our Target Zero partnership, we work on programs to reduce collisions that cause traffic congestion,” she said in a statement. “As collisions are significant cause of congestion, eliminating collisions keeps people safe, keeps commerce moving and strengthens the economy.”

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