Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Patrols August 18 – September 4

OLYMPIA, WA –  Each summer in Washington State, an average of 149 people die in traffic crashes. That is the deadliest season of the year on our roads.

During all of 2016, impaired drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in 277 deaths and another 371 serious injuries. These crashes are tragic and adding to the tragedy, they are completely preventable.

That is why extra DUI patrols will be out statewide from August 18 through September 4. The patrols will be looking for drunk or drugged drivers, and will uphold all traffic laws.

Throughout the state there will be 145 local law enforcement agencies as well as the Washington State Patrol that will be canvassing the roadways in search of impaired drivers.

The importance of these patrols is close to the heart of Jack Fletcher of Battle Ground.  He was a happy and motivated teenager who loved snow-boarding, hiking, playing rugby and hanging out with his friends.  He loved fire science and serving as a cadet chief with the fire cadet program. When Jack graduated from Prairie High School in June 2014, he headed to Central Oregon on a full ride fire science scholarship with the Crook County Fire & Rescue’s student firefighter training program.

Six weeks later, everything changed. Jack headed home from school hoping to surprise his family and some visiting relatives, but he never reached them. Instead, a man who had been drinking beer and tequila shots with a friend was driving his big pick-up truck on the same highway in the opposite direction from Jack. Other drivers who called 911 reported that the truck driver was speeding and weaving across traffic lanes. He was traveling about 80 mph when he hit Jack’s car head-on.

The emergency responders didn’t think Jack would live, given the extent of his injuries. He spent five days in a coma. His right arm was broken in three places. Some fingers on his right hand suffered amputations.  His right eye is blind. The impact shattered almost every bone in his face. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t walk. The most severe damage — traumatic brain injury — altered his short-term memory, focus and attention.

He endured months of surgeries and a year of rehabilitation. In order to care for him, his mother had to quit her job. The medical costs were more than a half million dollars.

To protect his brain from further injury Jack can’t play rugby or go snowboarding. His dream of becoming a fire fighter has been put on hold.

None of this, however, has injured Jack’s spirit. Three years later, Jack hasn’t just survived, he has thrived. He has a new job with the Boys and Girls Club. He’s volunteering for Clark County Fire and Rescue. He is taking college courses. He is driving again, and he is talking, a lot. Jack frequently talks at high school assemblies, driver education programs, at the Portland Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s court-ordered DUI program, and at church groups, to share his story and encourage others to make good decisions.

His message: Drive sober and don’t let your friends drive if they’ve been drinking or using marijuana.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is designed to encourage all drivers to make the right choice. Designate a sober, drug-free driver, take a cab, catch a ride share, Uber, Lyft or walk with a friend.

The Impact of Impaired Driving…Too Many Deaths and Injuries During Summer

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Patrols August 18 – September 4

OLYMPIA, WA –  Each summer in Washington State, an average of 149 people die in traffic crashes. That is the deadliest season of the year on our roads.

During all of 2016, impaired drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in 277 deaths and another 371 serious injuries. These crashes are tragic and adding to the tragedy, they are completely preventable.

That is why extra DUI patrols will be out statewide from August 18 through September 4. The patrols will be looking for drunk or drugged drivers, and will uphold all traffic laws.

Throughout the state there will be 145 local law enforcement agencies as well as the Washington State Patrol that will be canvassing the roadways in search of impaired drivers.

The importance of these patrols is close to the heart of Jack Fletcher of Battle Ground.  He was a happy and motivated teenager who loved snow-boarding, hiking, playing rugby and hanging out with his friends.  He loved fire science and serving as a cadet chief with the fire cadet program. When Jack graduated from Prairie High School in June 2014, he headed to Central Oregon on a full ride fire science scholarship with the Crook County Fire & Rescue’s student firefighter training program.

Six weeks later, everything changed. Jack headed home from school hoping to surprise his family and some visiting relatives, but he never reached them. Instead, a man who had been drinking beer and tequila shots with a friend was driving his big pick-up truck on the same highway in the opposite direction from Jack. Other drivers who called 911 reported that the truck driver was speeding and weaving across traffic lanes. He was traveling about 80 mph when he hit Jack’s car head-on.

The emergency responders didn’t think Jack would live, given the extent of his injuries. He spent five days in a coma. His right arm was broken in three places. Some fingers on his right hand suffered amputations.  His right eye is blind. The impact shattered almost every bone in his face. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t walk. The most severe damage — traumatic brain injury — altered his short-term memory, focus and attention.

He endured months of surgeries and a year of rehabilitation. In order to care for him, his mother had to quit her job. The medical costs were more than a half million dollars.

To protect his brain from further injury Jack can’t play rugby or go snowboarding. His dream of becoming a fire fighter has been put on hold.

None of this, however, has injured Jack’s spirit. Three years later, Jack hasn’t just survived, he has thrived. He has a new job with the Boys and Girls Club. He’s volunteering for Clark County Fire and Rescue. He is taking college courses. He is driving again, and he is talking, a lot. Jack frequently talks at high school assemblies, driver education programs, at the Portland Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s court-ordered DUI program, and at church groups, to share his story and encourage others to make good decisions.

His message: Drive sober and don’t let your friends drive if they’ve been drinking or using marijuana.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is designed to encourage all drivers to make the right choice. Designate a sober, drug-free driver, take a cab, catch a ride share, Uber, Lyft or walk with a friend.

Motorcycle Safety Patrols Begin July 28

OLYMPIA, WA — More motorcycles travel on Washington’s roads in the summer months than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when more motorcycle riders are killed or injured in crashes. In an effort to reduce these crashes, increased motorcycle safety patrols start July 28, and run through August 13 in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties.

The patrols will focus on illegal driving behaviors by both motorcycle riders and other vehicle drivers. Approximately 20 law enforcement agencies in these counties, including the Washington State Patrol, will be working overtime focused on drivers and riders who commit traffic safety violations.

“Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable and continue to be over-represented in deadly crashes,” said WTSC Director Darrin Grondel. “These crashes are preventable and we are working together to end these tragic deaths.”

These patrols are part of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s (WTSC) motorcycle safety education campaign known as “It’s a Fine Line.” From 2014 through 2016, motorcycles made up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles on Washington’s roads, but accounted for nearly 15 percent of all traffic fatalities (223 of 1550). Of these fatal motorcycle crashes, 53 percent were single motorcycle crashes where no other vehicle was involved, and 75 percent were traced to causal factors committed by the motorcyclist. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and alcohol, speeding, and running off the road are the main contributing factors in all motor vehicle deaths including motorcycles.

“Each summer in our state, we lose 35-40 people to motorcycle crashes, and that’s not acceptable,” Grondel added. “We want to ensure that everyone enjoys the ride and arrives home safely.”

The WTSC and participating law enforcement agencies condemn profiling. Trained and commissioned law enforcement officers will be conducting these patrols enforcing traffic violations as defined by Washington State laws.

For training videos and other information on the “It’s A Fine Line” motorcycle safety program in Washington, please visit http://itsafineline.com/

Washington Traffic Safety Commission Honors Tahoma Senior High School Senior

Tierra Wilson

OLYMPIA, WA — Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Darrin T. Grondel honored Tierra Wilson, a student at Tahoma Senior High School, for her work to improve traffic safety among her peers. Ms. Wilson was recognized during Senior Awards Night at her high school on May 31, 2017.

Ms. Wilson also won the $2,500 Safe Driving Scholarship for submitting a video focusing on her work as a DECA state officer working with the Traffic Safety Commission promoting the Target Zero initiative. Her video entry can be viewed here, driving-tests.org/scholarship.

Her passion for sharing safe driving messages with her peers includes reminders to follow the intermediate driver rules, such as no passengers, no cell phone use, and following the night time driving restrictions. She sets the right example by always wearing her seat belt and never driving under the influence.

Click It or Ticket Seat Belt Enforcement: Keeping Families Alive

OLYMPIA, WA ~ As Washingtonians prepare for upcoming summer travel, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission emphasizes the simplest step in keeping families safe: buckle up. The national “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign will take place May 22 through June 4, concurrent with Memorial Day, one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.

“It’s more than just putting your own seat belt on in the car; it means making sure everyone else in your car is properly restrained, especially children,” said Cesi Velez, Project Manager of Washington’s Child Passenger Safety Program.

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of unintentional death among children. From 2011-2015, almost half (48 percent) of child fatalities caused by a vehicular collision had unknown or no restraint use; 15 percent of those were under 13 years of age and illegally riding in the front seat; and 21 percent were riding without a booster – restrained only by a lap/shoulder seat belt. The majority of these tragedies likely could have been avoided had these children been properly restrained. Unfortunately, Washington’s current child passenger safety law can be difficult to interpret.

Washington’s child passenger safety law (RCW 46.61.687) says:

Vehicle occupants of any age must be “properly” restrained:

  • Under the age of 8 or 4’9” tall – must ride in an appropriate car safety seat. It must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Age 8 or taller than 4’9” – must use the seat belt correctly or continue use of a child safety seat.
  • Under the age of 13 – must ride in the back seat “where it is practical to do so.”

Safety advocates strongly encourage a child remain rear-facing in their child restraint until at least age 2; this provides them with the best protection of their spine, neck and head.

Statement of the WTSC on Gov. Jay Inslee Signing the “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act”

OLYMPIA – The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) released the following statement from Director Darrin Grondel, in response to Governor Jay Inslee signing the “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act (SB 5289)” today.

“Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes on Washington’s highways.  The new distracted driving law signed by the governor today will save lives.   Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington, and 71 percent of distracted drivers are engaging in the most dangerous distraction, using their cell phones behind the wheel.  With the passage and signing of the `Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act,’ the governor and legislature are taking needed action to address an urgent problem.
“With the governor vetoing the January 1, 2019 effective date, and the new law taking effect this July, the WTSC and the Washington State Patrol will be working together to educate the public about the new regulations to raise awareness and help ensure compliance.  Drivers will no longer be able to hold their phones while they drive, and hands-free can only be operated with a single touch.  However, the safest and simplest action motorists can take is to park your phone when you drive.
 “The WTSC is dedicated to reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2030, and the new distracted driving law is a milestone on that journey.”

 

Moms Can Lead the Drive to End Distracted Driving

Sam Thompson’s mother Lisa in this powerful video being shared by mothers as a warning to their loved ones about distracted driving

OLYMPIA –The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) today called on mothers to take the lead in modeling safe driving behavior for their children by not holding a mobile phone or texting while they are driving.

“All mothers want their children to be safe,” said Erika Mascorro, program manager for WTSC. “Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity for moms to pledge to put their phones away when they drive, so their kids will learn safe driving behavior. Moms can teach the next generation of drivers:  park your phone when you drive.”

WTSC conducted a statewide survey in March of women 16-34, and found that 96 percent agree that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Despite understanding the risk, the survey also found that:

  • 96 percent have their phones on while driving;
  • 48 percent read incoming text messages;
  • 34 percent send text messages; and,
  • 12 percent look at social media while behind the wheel.

The survey also showed that women would stop using their phone while driving to model good behavior for their children, with 89 percent saying that would motivate them to put away their phones.

“One of the justifications people give for using their phones while driving is that ‘everyone is doing it,’” said Mascorro. “Mothers can start changing that perception for their kids, by showing them that the safe way to drive is with the cell phone off and put away.”

“We know there are too many distracted drivers in Washington,” said Mascorro. “But driver distraction doesn’t stand a chance if moms focus on the issue.”

Distracted driving is dangerous:Mothers who have lost children in crashes caused by distracted driving have led efforts to raise awareness and strengthen distracted driving laws. In a moving video released by WTSC, Lisa Thompson, whose son Sam was killed while texting, shared her thoughts on learning that texting behind the wheel had led to her son’s death. This video is also helping moms reach out to their children about the dangers of distracted driving; many mothers are “tagging” their children and other loved ones on the video on Facebook, in a post that has been viewed more than 150,000 times.  Watch video:  https://www.facebook.com/WATargetZero/videos/776501742497655/

  • Deaths from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington.
  • Drivers are three-to-four times more likely to be in a crash when talking on a phone.
  • Studies indicate that hands-free is not safer than hand-held use.

The legislature has passed a new distracted driving law that prohibits hand-held cell phone use while driving.

The phone survey of Washington residents was conducted by SurveyUSA from March 7-16, of women aged 16-34 in Washington state. The sample size was 1,000, of whom 847 were drivers.

Outstanding Traffic Safety Task Force Coordinator Honored as Target Zero Manager of the Year

OLYMPIA – The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) honored Hilary Torres as its 2016 Target Zero Manager (TZM) of the Year. Torres is the TZM in Region 6, which is Clark and Skamania Counties. TZMs are traffic safety coordinators located throughout the state of Washington. These individuals support local efforts to assess the needs and capacity of communities that they serve in traffic safety efforts, and help to design and implement strategies to address those needs. The TZM network operates across the state of Washington and provides many resources to local law enforcement, providing guidance and support to their regions for High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) related activities. TZMs are an integral part of any successful HVE and traffic safety program in our state.

Hilary faced many challenges when she began her role as Region 6 TZM in January 2016. Clark and Skamania Counties had been without a TZM for some time and there was not a functioning task force to guide her learning. In addition, many law enforcement agencies had opted out of participating in WTSC-funded HVE programs. Hilary did not let that deter her and she hit the ground running. Over the past year, Hilary has developed the task force into a high-functioning unit. Her early strategies for success were focused on capacity building. She contacted local law enforcement agencies and built the task force up to where nearly every agency in the region is attending meetings and participating in HVE and other task force events.

“Hilary started this position with zero experience in traffic safety or law enforcement,” said Jerry Noviello, Local Coordination Program Manager at the WTSC. “But she takes every opportunity to learn from those around her, from her LEL and other local law enforcement in Clark County and other TZMs throughout the state, to WTSC staff in Olympia. It’s this quality that allows Hilary to excel at such a high level. She is always actively looking for successful programs and then seeks ways to learn every detail about them so that she can bring them back to Clark County.”

The WTSC also honored Officer Mark Brinkman of the Lynnwood Police Department (Region 10, Snohomish County), as its 2016 LEL of the Year. The awards were presented at the April 20th Washington Traffic Safety Commission quarterly meeting.

Law Enforcement Giving Extra Attention – and Tickets – To Distracted Drivers April 3-16

OLYMPIA, WA — “U Text, U Drive, U Pay” is the message the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is sending to distracted drivers in April as part of “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”  Drivers using cell phones behind the wheel are not only at a higher risk for a crash, during April they face a greater chance they will be ticketed for their risky behavior.  Nearly 150 law enforcement agencies around the state are adding patrols looking specifically for those distracted by cell phones while operating their vehicles.

“This show of force calls attention to the public safety threat posed by drivers being distracted by texting or talking on their phones,” said Angie Ward, program manager at WTSC, who is funding the patrols.  “We want drivers to understand that you can operate a car.  Or you can operate your phone.  But you can’t be safe and do both at once.”

Statewide, nearly 150 law enforcement agencies (sheriff’s offices, police departments, plus the Washington State Patrol) will be out in force looking for distracted drivers.

This year’s distracted driving awareness month comes after news that fatalities from distracted driving increased by 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington, and a recent study by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission showing that 71 percent of distracted drivers are distracted by their cell phones – the most dangerous type of distraction.  Studies show that drivers are up to four times more likely to be in a crash when talking on the phone (hands free or hand held) and 23 times more likely to crash when entering information into their phones.

Under current Washington law, it is illegal to text or hold your phone to your ear while driving.  Violators pay a $136 minimum fine.

In 2014, citations for illegal cell phone use while driving increased 197 percent, the last year for which data is available.  Says Ward, “While more tickets are issued during the patrols, people should know they can be ticketed any time.  More than 2,000 tickets just for cell phone use were issued in November of 2014.”

The WTSC recommends that drivers adopt the following five common-sense rules:

  1. Turn off your phone and put it in the glove box.
  2. If you’re a passenger, hold the driver’s phone.
  3. Don’t text or call a friend or loved one if you know they are driving.
  4. If using GPS on your phone, plug in the address before you start the car and use a mounted phone holder.
  5. Talk to family members (especially teen drivers) about the risks of cell phone use. Model responsible behavior by not using your phone while in the car.

Washington law enforcement has been observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month with High Visibility Enforcement since 2014.  The focus is a part of Target Zero, a statewide initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030.   The WTSC is also placing distracted driving ads statewide, showing the consequences of a teen who texts while driving a car filled with her friends.  You can see the ad here. Drivers can also learn more about distracted driving at http://wadrivetozero.com/.

“Our goal is that everyone will become more aware of the dangers of driving distracted. It only takes one driver distracted for a few seconds to wreck lives forever.  We can avoid that – we just have to turn our phones off and turn safety on,” Ward said.

These extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

Washington State Award Winners Lead the Way On Improving Driver Licensing and Testing Standards

OLYMPIA – On Monday, March 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) honored two Washington State citizen advocates with the NHTSA Public Service Award at the 2017 Lifesavers Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Citizen advocates Mi Ae Lipe of Bothell, WA, and Mark Butcher of Sammamish, WA each received the NHTSA Public Service Award for high standards of achievements in the field of highway safety and contributions to the quality of life in the country.

Specifically, Lipe and Butcher have volunteered multitudes of hours over the past five years to push the state towards strengthening driver license testing and training. They have asked government officials to take a closer look at how other countries with lower traffic death rates train and test drivers, in part because of the high rate of young driver involvement in deadly and serious crashes. For example, in Washington State from 2012–14, 16–25-year-old drivers made up only 14 percent of licensed drivers, yet they were involved in crashes resulting in 34 percent of all traffic deaths.  As a result of their work, Washington’s Target Zero® plan now includes a strategy of learning about other countries’ approaches to driver testing and training.

In September 2016, Lipe and Butcher led a group of six Washingtonians on a fact-finding tour of the traffic safety ecosystem in the UK, which has one of the world’s lowest traffic death rates and a vastly different driver training and testing environment than the US.

As the group explored the driver training system they noted that the training and testing of instructors, examiners, and students is more vigorous and detailed than US systems. The UK system emphasizes training in situational awareness, decision making skills, risk management, and behavioral attitudes. Their client-centered driver training approach encourages students to set their own pace for learning. The group also participated in training rides for examiners, instructors and students.

The tour also included a visit to an advanced street driver training organization. In the UK, drivers choose to take this advanced training to keep honing their skills in the years after they receive their license, regardless of age.

The group learned about the UK’s long-term approaches to road safety media campaigns with a visit to the Think! campaign headquarters.

“There is no way to quantify the contributions that Mi Ae and Mark have made to traffic safety in our state,” said Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director, Darrin Grondel. “While we know we could never adopt these other countries’ driver testing and training systems wholesale, we do think there are ways we can learn from them and Mark and Mi Ae are facilitating that work. I congratulate them on this well-deserved national recognition. We are honored that they are on our team to help carry out the strategies that will drive us to zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways.”

This year, NHTSA presented their top public service award to 13 individuals and organizations from around the country.

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 is being held March 26-28 in Charlotte, NC and has drawn well over 2,000 participants and 90 exhibitors.

The NHTSA Public Service Awards recognize and honor individuals or organizations, who exemplify high standards of achievement in the field of traffic safety; and through his/her or the group’s accomplishments, have 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.

“The Department of Transportation is dedicated to safety, but we can’t do it alone,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “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.”

New Statewide Survey Shows Cell Phone Use Greatest Cause of Distracted Driving

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) released the results today of a first-ever statewide observational survey of distracted drivers. The survey found that cell phone use is the most common type of distraction, with 71 percent of distracted drivers engaged with their phones while operating their vehicles. Statewide, nearly 1 out of 10 drivers in Washington State are distracted while driving, representing a distraction rate of 9.2 percent. Fatalities from distracted driving increased by 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington.

“Our goal is reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030; we call this Target Zero,” said Angie Ward, program manager at the WTSC. “With fatalities from distracted driving increasing, and with drivers engaging in the riskiest type of distracting behavior — cell phone use — reducing distracted driving must become a higher priority.”

More than 22,300 vehicle drivers were observed in the WTSC survey, in 23 counties across the state. While cell phone use was the most frequent distraction, other distractions observed (29 percent) included behaviors such as eating, tuning a radio, or attending to pets or children.

Other research has shown that cell phone use has been found to increase the risk of crashes by three times. Entering text into a cell phone can increase crash risk by up to 23 times.

Cell phone use is particularly risky because it causes what experts refer to as “inattention blindness.”  One study by AAA found that it can take a driver 27 seconds to refocus on the road after using a cell phone – in which time a car moving at 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields. Says Ward, “Research shows that cell phone use causes poor driving more than any other potential distraction. Choosing to use your cell phone while driving is one of the riskiest things you can do. Unfortunately, our study shows that too many drivers are putting themselves, their passengers and others at risk.”

Ward also pointed to an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study that showed while two-thirds of drivers support restrictions on cell phone use while driving, 70 percent of these same drivers admit to doing it themselves.

In addition to pending legislation to confront the issue of distracted driving, the issue is also being addressed by the WTSC through its Target Zero programs, and by state law enforcement agencies, who are working toward eliminating distracted driving behaviors through enforcement and education efforts, including a coordinated, statewide distracted driving patrol scheduled for April 2017. The WTSC also promotes awareness of distracted driving dangers through high school education programs.

This distracted driving observational survey will be conducted biennially by the WTSC so that the Commission can track statewide efforts to reduce distracted driving behaviors. The goal of the WTSC is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by the year 2030 (Target Zero). More information about Target Zero can be found atwww.targetzero.com.

The full report is available at http://wtsc.wa.gov/download/5986/

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The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is our state’s designated highway safety office. We share a vision with numerous other state and local public agencies. That vision is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030. The WTSC Director is the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, which is a designated position each state is required to have in order to qualify for federal traffic safety funding. Our Commission is made up of 22 employees and ten Commissioners chaired by Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee.

http://wtsc.wa.gov/
@targetzero