Traffic Safety Leaders Release Updated, Action-Focused Target Zero Plan

New Initiatives Focus on Health Equity, Multi-Cultural Communications and Traffic Safety Culture

OLYMPIA, WA — Traffic safety leaders in Washington released an updated version of Target Zero, the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan today, as Washington begins transitioning to the governor’s Safe Start proclamation.

Target Zero is a bold vision to eliminate traffic related deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. A collaboration of numerous traffic safety organizations come together to build a detailed blueprint based on the most recent data to focus their efforts on the most pressing traffic safety issues.

The plan includes five new initiatives that range from improving multicultural communication with diverse communities, strengthening licensing requirements and integrating new safety and autonomous vehicle technology.

“In light of an increase in traffic deaths in recent years, enacting Target Zero initiatives is more important than ever,” said Pam Pannkuk, acting director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). “In response, traffic safety partners in Washington have created an updated Target Zero plan that is innovative, includes new initiatives and is action-focused.”

The five new initiatives included in the plan are:

  1. Leverage Washington’s Traffic Safety Culture – Enlist and encourage the majority of Washingtonians who believe in and practice traffic safety to positively influence the smaller group who engage in riskier behavior
  2. Focus on Health Equity and Multicultural Communications – Create understanding of the impact of socio-economic factors on traffic safety and creating communications to effectively reach diverse audiences
  3. Update Cooperative Automated Transportation – Harness advancements in automated technology to reduce crash potential
  4. Prevention through Safe Systems Approach – Reduce the potential for fatalities or serious injuries through a multidisciplinary approach through a focus on speed, infrastructure, vehicles, and all transportation system users
  5. Identify best practices in Licensing and Regulation – Emphasize resources needed in minority or low-income communities


Download fact sheet explaining New Initiative Highlights


“Traffic safety matters to everyone in the community, and so there is a role for everyone in the community to play,” said Pannkuk. “Working with our partners across the state, we’ve outlined targeted actions that can be taken by law enforcement, communities, businesses and parents.”


Since the previous update of Target Zero plan was completed in 2016, traffic deaths have increased 23 percent (2015-2017). Impairment remains the most common factor in traffic deaths, with the number of drivers impaired by more than one substance (usually alcohol and cannabis) increasing by 15 percent per year between 2012 and 2016.

Washington currently has a strong traffic safety culture. For example, the state’s seat belt use rate is one of the best in the nation at 93 percent. And most people (78 percent) do not drive after drinking.

“Washington’s traffic safety culture is strong,” said Pannkuk, “One of the cornerstones of the updated plan is that we can bring our traffic safety culture to bear on new or persistent challenges.”

Target Zero is a practitioner’s plan, uniting the many contributing partners toward a common goal. Target Zero partners include key federal and state traffic safety agencies, along with tribes, cities, counties, non-profits, and private organizations. Collectively, this partnership is responsible for taking actions to reduce or prevent crashes through hundreds of projects, programs, initiatives, and campaigns all around the state. To view the updated Target Zero plan, click here.

“Washington has always been, and will remain, at the forefront of traffic safety,” said Pannkuk. “The Target Zero plan is a reflection of our unified dedication to making our roads the safest in the nation and we encourage everyone to join us in this commitment.”