Gamez: Drive safe and survive the summer on Washington highways

Jul 28, 2023, 3:07 PM | Updated: 3:09 pm

survivng summer...

FILE - The scene of a fatality car crash. (Tanner Laws/via AP, File)

(Tanner Laws/via AP, File)

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission and law enforcement agencies want you to #ArriveAlive this summer. The goal is to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on the state’s highways.

We are currently in our 90 most dangerous days of driving (June 9 to September 7 in Washington state) as Washington State Patrol (WSP) needs your assistance to ensure everyone arrives alive this summer.

Law enforcement wants you to do your part by driving safely on every trip, every time.

State Trooper Kelsey Harding calls it “Surviving Summer,” and uses the hashtag “ArriveAlive,” because of the increasing number of deadly crashes in our state.

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“The reason we’re bringing attention to it is the fact that we have seen an increase in our fatalities throughout the state over the past several years,” Harding said. “And since we’re seeing an upward trend in fatalities on our roadways, we want to do something that we can start having our trend going downward, which it was prior to 2018.”

She said the numbers on how many deaths occurred in Washington state go all the way back to 2018. In 2018, there were 539 total fatalities. 2019 had 538 total fatalities. 2020 had 574 total fatalities. 2021 was 675 total fatalities. Harding said the numbers for 2022 are still being synthesized.

“But preliminarily, they’re at 758 total fatality collisions in the state of Washington [in 2022], just in the state of Washington,” she said.

The number of fatal crashes on our roadways begs the question, why?

“We have to take into consideration the fact that more people are out on motorcycles in the Pacific Northwest,” Harding explained. “You’re not going to be out on a motorcycle in December, because more than likely there’s snow on the ground. And there are more people on the roadway because it’s summer and teachers, students, and a lot of people are going out with their families on vacation.”

The numbers are terrifying.

“Law enforcement across Washington state responded to 307 fatality collisions in June, which is an average of 61.4 every June,” Harding said. “321 fatality collisions in July, which is an average of 54.2 every July and then last summer. This is between 2018 and 2022. So like a combination of all of them.”

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Two weekends ago, Washington State Patrol (WSP) alone, had 15 fatal crashes. Harding called it a disheartening weekend. “We’re going to collisions where there are multiple fatalities, and then a total in a weekend up to 15.”

Driving under the influence, looking at cell phones, not wearing seat belts, and overall, not paying attention were the top contributing factors to fatal crashes in our state.

“We are still in our 90-day period that we are calling surviving summer or the 90 dangerous days of summer,” Harding explained. “So what we’re asking citizens to do to help us reduce the number of fatalities that we’re seeing across the state is to make sure that you’re taking part in driving safely because it is a team effort.”

She said that everyone can make a difference by making sure we share the roadways and to make good choices when we’re behind the wheel.

“And make sure we take a couple of extra seconds to make sure that we are sharing the roadways, especially with vulnerable users,” Harding continued. “And make sure that we’re paying attention to motorcycles that are a little bit smaller. It’s going to take us all to reduce these fatalities.”

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here.

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Gamez: Drive safe and survive the summer on Washington highways