Include a Safe and Sober Ride Home in Your Holiday Festivities

The following news release is a sample of the release sent to Yakima and Klickitat Counties. Localized releases were sent statewide.

Yakima and Klickitat Counties, WA – The holiday season is nearly upon us, and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) would like to remind Washingtonians to plan ahead and use alternative transportation after drinking alcohol or using marijuana during celebrations.

“The Yakima Police Department would like to encourage you to have a safe and joyous holiday season.  We will be conducting extra patrols, therefore, if your festivities involve alcohol or marijuana  please take care of each other and find a safe ride home,” said Sgt. Chance Belton of the Yakima Police Department.
Preliminary Fatality Analysis Reporting (FARS) data shows more than 500 traffic deaths so far in 2015, nearly 100 more reported deaths than this time last year.

“We have seen an unfortunate increase in traffic deaths this year,” said Darrin Grondel, WTSC director, “By encouraging people to plan ahead over the holiday party season, and to ensure a sober ride home, we hope our state will experience zero traffic deaths in December and through the New Year.”

Extra DUI enforcement patrols statewide began November 26 and will end January 1.

“As the holiday season is upon us, the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office encourages you to celebrate safely and responsibly. We will be adding extra patrols countywide in our effort to provide the safest roadways to our citizens and visitors. If you chose to drink alcohol or use Marijuana please don’t drive. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday season,” said Sgt. Joe Riggers, of the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office.
In Yakima and Klickitat Counties the Grandview and Yakima Police Departments, the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the Yakima and Klickitat County Traffic Safety Task Force.

Report Examines Marijuana Positive Drivers Involved in Deadly Crashes

Olympia, WA – Since Washington legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana, many have asked the Washington Traffic Safety Commission how this change may impact traffic safety. The Commission took the first step toward understanding the issue by releasing a new report today providing a detailed examination of marijuana positive drivers involved in deadly crashes.

This is the first time in Washington that crash data on marijuana positive drivers has distinguished between drivers who test positive for THC, the impairing substance in marijuana, and those who have residual marijuana, called carboxy, in their system from prior use which may have occurred days ago. This study categorizes marijuana positive drivers into mutually exclusive categories based on the total results of their blood tests.

In Washington, impaired driving is the leading factor in traffic deaths. This includes drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs—prescription or illegal.


Most drivers received both alcohol and drug testing. The State Toxicology Laboratory tested blood samples for both alcohol and drugs for 1,773 drivers involved in deadly crashes between 2010 and 2014. Of these 1,773 drivers tested, nearly 60 percent (1,061) were positive for alcohol, marijuana, or drugs.

Most drivers who were tested had multiple substances in their system. Among drivers with positive test results, the largest percentage showed combinations of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Approximately one-third revealed alcohol only (34 percent), and eight percent tested positive for marijuana only.

Marijuana is the most frequently found drug. Not including alcohol, marijuana continues to be the most frequently-occurring drug among drivers involved in deadly crashes. By itself or in combinations with alcohol and other drugs, 349 drivers tested positive for marijuana.

The report further separates these drivers by those positive for THC and those positive for carboxy.

More drivers tested positive for THC. In 2014, of the 89 drivers who tested positive for marijuana 75 of them (84 percent) were positive for THC. This is much higher than 2010 when 81 drivers were positive for marijuana and 36 (44 percent) of those were positive for THC.

Half of THC positive drivers are above 5 ng/ml. In 2014, among the 75 drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for THC, about half exceeded the 5 ng/ml per se limit.

THC is increasing while alcohol is decreasing. The 75 THC-positive drivers in 2014 comprised the highest number of THC-positive drivers in any year during the five-year period studied. The 51 drivers who only had alcohol in their systems (and were over the per se limit) in 2014 were the lowest number of such drivers in the study period.

Most THC positive drivers are young men. When looking at drivers positive for THC, either THC-only or in addition to alcohol above the per se limit, nearly 40 percent were men ages 16-25.

Drivers combining marijuana and alcohol showed increased risk. Drivers who combined alcohol and marijuana were frequently unbuckled, unlicensed and speeding.

THC positive drivers were more likely to be involved in daytime crashes. A majority of deadly crashes involving drivers with THC alone, or in combination with other drugs, except alcohol, occurred during the daytime hours. A majority of deadly crashes involving drivers with alcohol above the per se limit, alone or in combination with marijuana or other drugs, occurred during the nighttime hours.

The attached table shows the mutually exclusive categories of drivers involved in deadly crashes by toxicology results. The full report, “Driver Toxicology Testing and the Involvement of Marijuana in Fatal Crashes, 2010-2014,” is available at

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. Driver Sober and be part of our Target Zero Team. Remember, drunk, drugs or high, it’s a DUI. For more information, visit

Speeding – West

Speeding – East

Marijuana Increased in 2014 as a Factor in Deadly Crashes

Olympia, WA – Newly released data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) shows that marijuana is increasing as a factor in deadly crashes. The number of drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for marijuana increased 48 percent from 2013 to 2014.

“We have seen marijuana involvement in fatal crashes remain steady over the years, and then it just spiked in 2014,” said Dr. Staci Hoff, WTSC Data and Research Director.

From 2010-2014, nearly 60 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions were tested for drugs. Among these tested drivers, approximately 20 percent (349 drivers) were positive for marijuana.

However, just testing positive for marijuana doesn’t necessarily indicate if a driver was actually affected by the drug at the time of the crash since marijuana can be detected in a person’s blood for days (possibly weeks) after a person uses the drug. This new data is able to distinguish between drivers who test positive for THC, the impairing substance in marijuana and those who have residual marijuana in their system from prior use which may have occurred days ago.

The number of drivers testing positive for active THC increased, from 65 percent (38 of 60 drivers) in 2013 to an alarming 85 percent (75 of 89 drivers) in 2014. Approximately half of these THC-positive drivers exceeded the 5 ng/ml THC per se limit (A “per se” limit is the amount of a substance in a person’s blood that according to Washington law makes the person DUI notwithstanding other evidence.)

“With this data we are finally able to see who was high during the crash versus which drivers had used marijuana in the past few days,” said Hoff, “The answer in 2014 is most of them were high.”

According to the new data, the driver with the highest THC level was tested at 70 ng/ml.  Half of these THC-positive drivers were also under the influence of alcohol, the majority of those also exceeded the alcohol per se limit of 0.08 BAC.

The largest increase in THC-positive drivers were among males ages 21-25, from only 6 in 2013 up to 19 in 2014 – the most significant increase among any other age group.

The WTSC Research and Data Division, in collaboration with the WA State Patrol Toxicology Lab, abstracted drug types and levels for drivers in fatal crashes back to 2008. The full report and complete analysis of this data is expected to be released in September.

“This study is a step towards answering the myriad of questions we have about the impact of legalized marijuana on driving. We will continue to explore the implications of this information,” said Hoff.

A new law prohibits drivers and passengers from using marijuana while driving. It also prohibits anyone from keeping marijuana in the vehicle unless it is in its original sealed packaging or is stored in the trunk or some other area of the car not normally occupied by people.

“This data shows why this new law is so important,” said Darrin Grondel, WTSC Director, referring to the new statute passed during this year’s legislative session.

From 2008 through 2014, more than 1,100 people died in impaired collisions in Washington. Impaired driving is involved in nearly half of all traffic deaths and more than 20 percent of serious injury collisions. The highest percentage of these deaths occurs during the summer months.

That is why the WTSC participates in the National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. From now through Labor Day, the Commission is letting the public know that extra officers will be out across the state at times and locations where DUI is a problem.

“It is our hope that by publicizing these extra patrols more people will plan ahead if they will be drinking or using marijuana,” said Grondel. “Don’t risk getting arrested for a DUI, or causing a life-changing tragedy. Designate a sober, drug-free driver.”

Over 100 law enforcement agencies including all districts of the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols all across the state.

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


“U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign to begin in April

Olympia, WA – For the second year in a row, more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Washington State will be cracking down on distracted drivers as part of the national distracted driving enforcement campaign.

Between April 1 and April 15, high visibility enforcement efforts will target motorists who are observed talking on handheld cell phones and sending text messages. The slogan of the national campaign is “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

A kick-off event for the campaign will take place in Spokane on April 1. At the event, Jim and Lisa Thompson will unveil a road sign to be erected this spring at the site near Colfax where their son, Sam, died after he crossed the center line while texting and driving. The statewide patrols will be conducted in honor of Sam.

Toward Zero Deaths – TZD

WASHINGTON D.C. – The National Strategy on Highway Safety, called Toward Zero Deaths (TZD), was officially rolled out today nationwide. The TZD plan provides countermeasures in education, engineering, enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) for organizations, businesses and individuals to reduce deaths on our roadways from over 33,000 each year to zero.

“The philosophy behind Toward Zero Deaths is until our roads are absolutely free of fatalities, our work is not finished,” said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). “Our aim is that the united effort of these organizations will reduce highway fatalities at a much faster rate.”

More than 40 states have zero-based traffic safety efforts underway, but there is a need for a single, national vision for highway safety. TZD was developed by a steering committee cooperative to fill this need.

“Crashes are influenced by many factors,” said Steve Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). “To reach our goal of zero, solutions must come from multiple angles, which is why the TZD plan addresses the vehicles, the road and the driver.”

“Adopting a TZD safety vision is a crucial first step in eliminating fatalities on our nation’s roadways,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “But following through with real-world actions is of equal, if not greater, importance. The TZD plan outlines something everyone can do—on a personal or professional level—that will contribute to saving lives on our roads.”

Many states and local organizations have begun implementing initiatives outlined in the National Strategy on Highway Safety.

Examples of initiatives in progress:

Law enforcement is identifying high crash corridors and is implementing high-visibility and targeted multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional enforcement coupled with education and outreach activities to help motivate behavioral change.

Several state EMS and highway safety officials are linking electronic crash record data with EMS (and hospital) electronic data to determine which treatments are most effective in saving lives and reducing disabilities.

Future enhancements to the 911 system, referred to as “Next Generation 9-1-1,” are being planned to enable people to transmit text messages—including images, video, and other data files—about the crash location and scene. This vital information will help EMS staff significantly improve the preparations, response and services provided at a crash scene.

County engineers nationwide are assembling multidisciplinary work groups at the local level to address specific community roadway safety issues.

“Reaching zero deaths on our nation’s roads will take dedication and collaboration by everyone who touches our transportation network who will turn this vision into a reality,” said Anne Ferro, president & CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

About Toward Zero Deaths

For more information about the Toward Zero Deaths National Strategy on Highway Safety, The TZD effort is led by a group of associations representing state and local government agencies working to reduce highway fatalities:

  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)
  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)
  • Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • National Association of County Engineers (NACE)
  • National Local Technical Assistance Program Association (NLTAPA)
  • National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials (NASEMSO)

The Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided technical support to the TZD efforts.

For more than five years, these associations have been working together to identify and prioritize the leading initiatives that will reduce traffic fatalities over the next 25 years.

Tony Dorsey, 202-624-3690
Media Relations Manager

Results of the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed Campaign In Whatcom County Announced Today

This is one sample of news releases customized by county throughout the state.

Whatcom County, WA – The results are in from the recent Drive Hammered, Get Nailed enforcement campaign conducted from August 17 through September 3.

In Whatcom County, 42 motorists were stopped and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), and statewide, law enforcement officers arrested 1,603 drivers for DUI. Last year in Whatcom County, during the same time period, officers on routine and extra patrols arrested 52 people for DUI.

In Whatcom County, Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and Western Washington University Police Departments, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol participated in the extra DUI patrols, with the support of the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force. The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

These patrols are important because August is one of the deadliest months on Washington’s roadways.