Drugs Increase as a Factor in Traffic Deaths

Drunk, Drugs, or High, it’s a DUI
Extra DUI Patrols in Force for the Holidays

KING COUNTY, WA – Law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in extra patrols aimed at getting DUI drivers off the roads over this holiday season from December 15 to January 1.

“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) funds these extra patrols because we want every family to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones,” said Darrin Grondel, WTSC director. “Unfortunately, we are very aware that deadly traffic crashes can turn holiday dreams into nightmares.”

“We are alarmed at recent increases in traffic deaths involving DUI, especially among drivers who test positive for two or more drugs, or both alcohol and drugs,” said Grondel. “Our agency is charged with examining every detail of every deadly crash. When we look at this data, we have to wonder why we are seeing so many deadly crashes where drivers are mixing drugs and alcohol” said Grondel.

An example of one such crash occurred on February 28, 2016 at 1:00 am. A 28-year-old man was driving under the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. He entered I-5 near Tukwila driving the wrong way. As he traveled around a curve he crashed head-on into another vehicle traveling the correct direction around the same curve. The crash killed the impaired driver and seriously injured the other driver. Test results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.28 percent, 14 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) and a low amount of cocaine. He was unbuckled at the time of the crash.

The map below shows this crash and all DUI crashes in Washington in 2015. “It makes it easy to see that nearly three times as many drivers involved in deadly DUI crashes had multiple substances in their bodies as those with only alcohol or a single drug,” said Grondel.

“So as we travel this season, I would like to remind Washingtonians that mixing alcohol, marijuana and other drugs with driving can have devastating consequences. Give the gift of life this holiday season. Talk to your friends and family. Ensure they drive sober or find an alternative ride.”

In King County, the Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Clyde Hill, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Normandy Park, Pacific, Port of Seattle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, and Tukwila Police Departments, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the King County Target Zero Task Force.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission embraces Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030, but we can’t get there without you. Drive Sober and be part of our Target Zero Team. Remember—drunk, drugs or high, it’s a DUI. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.

Impaired Driving Deadly Crashes, Washington, 2015

To view data about each crash, go to http://arcg.is/2gK5nTS

Tie Into Traffic Safety

Has a pebble ever hit your windshield? Isn’t it startling how such a tiny object can inflict such immediate and significant damage?

Now imagine instead of a pebble hitting your windshield, it’s a ladder, wheelbarrow, hammer, stack of wood, mattress or a piece of furniture. Now, imagine you and your family are driving behind a car carrying one (or more) of those objects.

On June 6, 2006, Matthew Reif of Arizona was driving home from his job as a heavy equipment operator when an unsecured 10-pound piece of scrap metal from a truck in front of him smashed through the windshield. The 29-year-old was killed on impact. Matthew was full of life, say his parents, Paul and Toby Reif, who add that he “lived to play lacrosse and was a gifted piano player.” In loving memory of Matthew, Secure Your Load, founded by Robin Abel of Seattle Washington, after an unsecured load left her daughter catastrophically injured, is launching its inaugural Secure Your Load Day on June 6, 2016.

Think those are just freak accidents? Think again.

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, there are 51,000 incidents every year, killing 440 and injuring 10,000.  What’s worse? In states where unsecured loads are only subject to a meager littering fine, the incidents are much greater.

Speaking of litter: 40 percent of the litter on our roadways comes from unsecured loads and our states spend a combined $11.5 billion (that’s billion with a B) annually on litter clean-up.

Here’s another startling fact: A 20-pound object at 55 MPH has a force of 1000 pounds at impact.

Says Abel: “We put on our seatbelts and fasten our children in car seats so why is it that we think it’s OK to leave anything loose in the bed of our trucks and risk endangering others on the road?”

Driving with an unsecured load is both against the law and extremely dangerous. Thanks to Abel’s dedicated efforts, President Obama and Congress included load-securing recommendations to the states in the Fast Act of December 2015.

On June 6th, in honor of those whose lives have been impacted by unsecured loads and road debris and in an effort to make load-securing a standard practice, Abel urges everyone to share and heed this urgent traffic safety message.

“Secure Your Load as if everyone you love is driving in the car behind you,” Abel adds.

For more information, check out the Secure Your Load PSA.

Buckle Up! Your Family is Waiting for You!

Stanzi Hay, a senior at Asotin High School

The following news release is a sample of the release sent to Kitsap County. Localized releases were sent statewide.

“Buckle Up! Your Family is Waiting for You!”
High School Senior Helps Launch Statewide Seat Belt Campaign

Pierce County, WA –What would you do if you knew that some of your friends were carelessly putting themselves at the risk of dying?

When Stanzi Hay, a senior at Asotin High School, conducted an observational survey, she found that nearly nine out of every ten students and adults arrived at school buckled up; but she was concerned about those who weren’t. These were her friends and classmates, and she didn’t want their loved ones to experience a tragic loss simply due to a negligent decision to drive or ride unbuckled.

“Unsafe behavior behind the wheel is a big deal. The decision to not buckle up while driving kills teens just like me every day across America,” said Hay, reflecting on what drove her to dedicate her senior year to promoting seat belt usage and teen driving safety.

She decided to tackle this issue through the development of a yearlong safe driving campaign. One of the many projects she led this year was a three-week-long seat belt campaign at Asotin High School called, “Buckle Up: Your Family is Waiting for You!” She wanted her peers to understand that the decisions made within a vehicle impact countless others’ lives and those of their family members.

The campaign resulted in increased seat belt use among fellow-students, and by the end, 96 percent were arriving to school protected by seat belts.

That’s a bit higher than our state seat belt use rate of 95 percent. So for the next few weeks, Hay is taking her message statewide and joining the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to encourage drivers across the state to buckle up every time.
“Your family is waiting for you,” Hay reminds drivers and passengers. “For their sake, buckle up.” After all, Hay points out, “The use of seat belts has saved the lives of nearly 300,000 Americans since 1975.”

Washington law enforcement officers will join the national Click It or Ticket campaign aimed at encouraging everyone to wear their seat belt on every trip. Extra patrols will run from May 23 to June 5, 2016.  In Pierce County, the Bonney Lake, Fife, Fircrest, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Puyallup, Sumner, Tacoma and University Place Police Departments, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and the Washington State Patrol will be participating in the extra patrols through the coordination of the Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.

These extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.

NHTSA Honors Safety Champions at Lifesavers Conference

Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director of Neighborhood Greenways in Seattle, was one of 16 recipients of the NHTSA Public Service Awards. The full list of award winners is included in the news release below.

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) presented 16 individuals and organizations with the NHTSA Public Service Award at today’s 34th Annual Lifesavers Conference. The agency’s top public service award recognizes the tireless efforts and outstanding contributions many people make to improve highway safety throughout the country.

“The Department of Transportation is dedicated to safety, but we can’t do it alone,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The NHTSA Public Service Award recipients help us improve safety each and every day across the country. We thank them for their service, for the difference they have made, and the example they are setting for others.”

The Lifesavers conference is the nation’s largest assembly of highway safety professionals. The conference highlights and shares emerging traffic safety data, and issues, and exposes participants to proven life-saving programs and best practices that they can use in their individual jurisdictions. This year’s conference hosted by the non-profit Lifesavers Organization, runs from April 3- 5 in Long Beach, CA and is expected to draw well over 2,500 participants and 90 exhibitors.

“We rely on the continued leadership of safety practitioners all across this nation to help us tackle the most dangerous driving practices – whether it is drunk driving, seatbelt use, child passenger safety, or distraction,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “The winners exemplify the highest levels of dedication and hard work that are critical to saving lives on America’s roads.”

The NHTSA Public Service Awards recognize and honor an individual or organization, who exemplifies high standards of achievements in the field of traffic safety; and through his/her or the group’s accomplishments, has contributed to the quality of life in the community, state or nation. Nominations were limited to individuals and organizations who conduct these activities as volunteers or in a civic capacity. Award winners were nominated by NHTSA staff members and selected by senior NHTSA leadership.

Here are the 16 public service award winners and their plaque citations:

  • Colonel Michael Edmonson / Deputy Secretary of Public Safety Services, Louisiana State Police – Baton Rouge, LA: In recognition and appreciation of your leadership in advancing traffic safety enforcement programs across the Nation including the Drive to Save Lives campaign.
  • Lieutenant Scott Harner / Ocean City Police Department – Ocean City, MD: In recognition of your collaborative efforts and dedication to reducing pedestrian fatalities and crashes by championing the Walk Smart program.
  • Deborah Hersman / President and CEO of the National Safety Council – Itasca, IL: In recognition of your outstanding contributions to improving transportation safety through advocacy and awareness efforts on a wide range of critical traffic safety issues.
  • Johnny Humphreys / Safe Kids Texas Heatstroke Task Force – Austin, TX: In recognition of your expert leadership, advice and training to the citizens of Texas on the prevention of child heatstroke deaths in cars.
  • Judge Joseph Kavanaugh / Professor National Judicial College – Alexandria, VA: In recognition of your outstanding service in protecting communities and enhancing traffic safety by providing expert legal advice and training to our Nation’s criminal justice community.
  • Dr. Beau Kilmer / Co-Director of RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center – Santa Monica, CA: In recognition of your leadership and innovation in the areas of alcohol and drug- impaired driving program and policy research.
  • Officer Joey Koher / West Virginia Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Coordinator – Huntington, WV: In recognition of your advancement of West Virginia’s DRE program and your commitment to reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by impaired driving offenders.
  • Thelma Kuska / National Child Passenger Safety Board – Palos Hills, IL: In recognition of your extraordinary commitment to the safe transport of children and teens through education and training.
  • Carl McDonald / MADD’s National Law Enforcement Initiatives Manager – Casper, WY: In recognition and appreciation of your outstanding advocacy by bringing awareness to the devastating effects of impaired driving.
  • Rep. Lee B. Perry / Utah State House of Representatives – Bingham, UT: In recognition of championing occupant protection and other traffic safety issues by encouraging and supporting strong legislation.
  • Susan Price / Senior Deputy District Attorney for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office – Santa Ana, CA: In recognition of your outstanding service in protecting communities and enhancing traffic safety by providing expert legal advice and training resources to Orange County’s criminal justice community.
  • Greg Raisman / Executive Director Neighborhood Greenways – Portland, OR: In recognition of working to reshape roadways into safer, more equitable, and comfortable streets for pedestrians and bicyclists through community engagement across Portland and Seattle.
  • Sergeant Luis Taborda / Miami Police Department – Miami: In recognition of your coordination of the Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety program in Miami and your commitment to reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by impaired driving offenders through DRE training and mentoring.
  • Joanne Thomka / Program Director of the National Traffic Law Center, National District Attorney’s Association – Alexandria, VA: In recognition of your outstanding service in protecting communities and enhancing traffic safety by providing expert legal advice and training to our Nation’s criminal justice community.
  • Cathy Tuttle / Executive Director Neighborhood Greenways – Seattle: In recognition of working to reshape roadways into safer, more equitable, and comfortable streets for pedestrians and bicyclists through community engagement across Seattle.
  • Dr. William Haddon, (Posthumously) / US DOT 50th Anniversary Award Winner: In honor of the first Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Dr. William Haddon – Pioneer, Physician, Leader, Scientist – for his enduring contributions to motor vehicle safety in the United States.

If You’re Texting, You’re Not Driving

The following news release is a sample of the release sent to Kitsap County. Localized releases were sent statewide.

KITSAP COUNTY, WA – Heads up, Washington! April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, so make a commitment to leave your cell phone alone while you’re driving. Not only is it dangerous, but with extra officers looking for cell phone violators, you risk a ticket otherwise.

While many things can distract a driver, cell phones are the most dangerous. “Cell phones distract drivers differently than eating a hamburger or putting on make-up,” explains Angie Ward, Washington Traffic Safety Commission program manager.

“Holding a phone in your hand takes your hand off the wheel. Reading or entering data into your phone takes your eyes off the road. The biggest problem is that it takes your mind away from the tasks of driving.”

Cell phones cause crashes because they connect us to social and informational interchanges, explains Ward. This complex mental task creates a situation where a driver “looks” but doesn’t “see.”

Recent AAA research has shown that it takes nearly 30 seconds after ending the call or text for a driver’s mind to return its focus to driving.

One in ten drivers and one-third of pedestrians were distracted by cell phone use, according to two studies conducted by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle.

“Taken together, this research has serious implications for people who think it’s safe to dial or send a text message at a stoplight” said Dr. Beth Ebel lead author of the Harborview studies. “Even if drivers stop talking or texting before the light turns green, they still don’t take in all the important elements in their surroundings for another 30 seconds. Couple this with pedestrians who may also be distracted and it’s a recipe for a trip to the emergency room, or worse.”

One out of five deadly crashes and one out of three serious injury crashes happen at or near an intersection, Ward notes.

For the third consecutive year, Washington law enforcement officers will join the national campaign aimed at curbing the temptation of drivers to use their phones. Extra patrols will run from April 1-14, 2016.

These extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found at www.wtsc.wa.gov.

Outstanding Lynnwood Police Officer Honored as Local Law Enforcement Liaison of the Year

OLYMPIA – The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) honored Officer Mark Brinkman of the Lynnwood Police Department as its 2016 Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) of the Year. Local LELs support traffic safety task forces and their coordinators, called Target Zero Managers (TZMs), in regions around Washington State. They serve as the “go-to” person for law enforcement agencies during High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) campaigns organized by that region’s task force.

Officer Brinkman is described as truly dedicated to the HVE traffic safety model in Region 10 (Snohomish County), and works hard behind the scenes of these emphasis patrols. He is known for donating his own time, even after his LEL funding has been spent. For the better part of a year, Region 10 was without a TZM, and Officer Brinkman did an immense amount of work to keep the program going. He worked with 2 interim TZMs, and at times, acted as the interim TZM himself.  He managed meetings, coordinated HVE patrols, kept the appropriate paperwork in line for WTSC, and did this work until the current TZM, Stacey McShane, was hired.

“I am fortunate to have known Officer Brinkman for the past 15-20 years due to our paths crossing in the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and LEL world,” said Bob Thompson, Washington’s Statewide LEL. “He is an outstanding DRE instructor as well as an outstanding local LEL in Snohomish County. Washington State is very fortunate to have an officer with the dedication and determination that Mark exhibits constantly. He has been a pleasure to work with and is definitely deserving of this recognition.”

The WTSC also honored Hilary Torres, Region 6 (Clark and Skamania Counties), as its 2016 TZM of the Year. The awards were presented at the April 20th Washington Traffic Safety Commission quarterly meeting.