WTSC: Traffic deaths in Washington reach 20-year high

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is sounding the alarm after road deaths in the state reached a 20-year high in 2021, with 663 fatalities.

The trend in fatalities continues to increase this year, with more traffic deaths in the first quarter compared with the same time last year, according to preliminary data.

In an effort to reverse the trend, WTSC is launching the “Together We Get There” summer ad campaign, one of its largest public education campaigns in its history.

It focuses on community-based traffic safety culture and enlists safe drivers to encourage others to be safe.

“Most of us use roads safely, and we can also influence the smaller number of people who engage in risky behavior. Take an extra step and help someone close to you be safe, too. It’s as simple as reminding them to buckle their seat belt or put their phone away when they drive,” said director of external relations for WTSC, Mark McKechnie.

The campaign will run on social media, television, radio, video and audio streaming services. Ads will also run in eight languages on community-based media outlets.

The ads will run from June through August, the three months which historically have more traffic deaths than other times of the year.

“Research shows that reinforcing safe behavior with someone you know can influence them to change,” said McKechnie. “Community involvement and a willingness to encourage others to be safe will save lives on our roads.”

WTSC said the Utah Department of Public Safety launched a similar campaign that focused on counties in the state with the lowest seat belt use. The program encouraged community involvement, and Utah reached a 20% average seat belt use increase from 2012 to 2019 in its target counties, WTSC said in a news release.