Enhanced patrols on roads and highways begin December 13
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is asking Washingtonians to have a happy holiday season by travelling safely and responsibly on all roads and highways.
Law enforcement agencies across the state will have an increased presence on roads over a period from December 13 to January 1 to help remind everyone to drive safely. Patrols will be monitoring traffic for instances of impaired driving. Last year, 740 people died on Washington roads, with more than half of those fatalities involving alcohol or drug impaired driving.
Impaired driving due to alcohol or drug use is the top risk factor in fatal crashes. It is also preventable. Impairment begins at a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than the current .08 legal limit. Reduced small muscle control (including eye focus), impaired judgment, and reduced alertness begin at .05 BAC. Before someone reaches .07 BAC, their crash risk has doubled.
Jack Fletcher is a safe-driving advocate whose life was changed by an impaired driver. In July 2014, he was hit head-on by a driver whose BAC was twice the legal limit. “I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I was placed in an induced coma for five days and woke up to a new reality. I don’t ever call my crash an accident because accidents aren’t preventable. This was very preventable.”
“Most people drive sober, but the small number of people who drive impaired pose a serious risk to themselves and to all of us on our roads,” said Mark McKechnie, WTSC External Relations Director. “Everyone plays a role in making our roads safer. Talking with those closest to us and setting a safe example is a great way to get started.”
Everyone can help prevent impaired driving. WTSC offers some advice for holiday revelers before they get behind the wheel:
- Designate a sober driver before drinking
- Pre-plan the trip home by scheduling a rideshare or cab pick-up
- Arrange for family or friends to stay the night after holiday festivities
- Use public transportation
- Call 911 if you see or suspect someone is driving impaired
Public policy can also prevent impaired driving fatalities. This coming year, the Washington State legislature will consider lowering the BAC limit for operating a motor vehicle from .08 percent to .05 percent to accurately reflect when impairment really starts. More than 84 percent of people on the planet live in countries that have BAC limits of .05 percent or lower because these limits effectively reduce the number of crashes and prevent traffic fatalities.