Deaths on Washington roads continue to rise

Washington roads are becoming more dangerous and deadly each year.

Hundreds of lives lost because of distracted, impaired, or reckless drivers. There were more than 800 fatalities last year alone.

“We very intentionally do not call these accidents, because they’re not accidental. They’re predictable, and they’re preventable,” says Mark McKechnie. “The number as of today is that 818 people died on Washington roads in 2023, which is another new high since 1990.”

McKechnie is with Washington’s Traffic Safety Commission, working to educate anyone who gets behind the wheel.

“They’re piloting a two-ton projectile through space. They need to be paying attention to that and not other things,” says McKechnie about drivers.

According to the Traffic Safety Commission, nearly half of deadly crashes involved an impaired driver. Nearly a third of deadly crashes involved a speeding driver.

The biggest climb in fatalities, carried through the pandemic. The global uncertainty fueling new habits and increased risks on the road.

“We know that it had an impact on people’s emotional well-being, their behavioral health. We know that alcohol and other substance use went up. And so that was a natural consequence to see more problems on our roads,” says McKechnie.

His office is asking the legislature to help pump the breaks on dangerous drivers.

This legislative session state lawmakers did pass House Bill 2384 to increase the use of speed cameras.

But legislators failed to pass bills that would lower the blood alcohol limit or put drivers education courses back in schools. Two things McKechnie believes would be effective: reiterating last year’s tragedies.

“If those 800 people were wiped out all at once, it would be a huge disaster, and there would be a massive response to it. But when two or three people a day are dying, it’s easier to overlook.”