Informative article in the Olympian by journalist Martin Bilbao describes Governor Inslee’s efforts to acquire more traffic cameras in WA as traffic fatalities rose. The data showed a concerning lack of progress for Target Zero, a state safety plan that aims to eliminate fatal and serious injury collisions by 2030.
Traffic fatalities in Washington state increased about 39% from 538 in 2019 to 750 in 2022, according to data presented by Shelly Baldwin, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. However, she cautioned that 2022 data was preliminary.
“We have not seen such a rapid increase since back in the ‘70s . . . We want to keep in mind that these are not just numbers. These are families and friends and co-workers whose lives have been lost and left the people around them grieving.” ~Shelly Baldwin, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission
The data show eight counties account for about 60% of all fatalities. The top three are in the state’s population center — King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Thurston County ranks seventh in fatalities, but is sixth in population. The state’s traffic fatality rate per 100 vehicle miles traveled reached 1.16 in 2021 compared to 1.37 at the national level, Baldwin shared. She said impaired driving, followed by speeding and distracted driving, were key risk factors in traffic fatalities.
Earlier this year, the state authorized the use of speed cameras in highway work zones with the passage of Senate Bill 5272. However, Inslee’s proposal would go further:
“The fact, we’re not doing that, frankly, is a little frustrating right now . . . I’m glad we’ve taken the first step in construction zones, but we can’t allow this carnage to continue when we have a technology that works.” ~Governor Jay Inslee
Inslee said he would direct the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to work with his staff to develop a plan for increasing the use of speed cameras. Additionally, Inslee said he supports recruiting more law enforcement personnel to enforce traffic laws.
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