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Gov. Gregoire announces drop in fatality rates on Washington roads

For Immediate Release: April 3, 2008

Traffic safety increased with strategic highway safety plan

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire announced today that the number of people who died on Washington roads in 2007 is down markedly from the previous year. As of April 1, 567 people were reported to have died in traffic crashes in 2007 — down from 625 in 2006. When all reports have arrived, researchers expect the number to increase by 10 to 15, but the 2007 final number should remain below the 2006 final tally of 633. As fatalities may result up to 30 days after injuries are sustained, and state agency reports might be available later, there is a lag between the end of a calendar year and the final reporting of traffic deaths.

This preliminary decrease represents a 9 percent drop in traffic deaths from the previous year. By comparison, the average yearly decrease between 2002 and 2006 was 5.6 percent.

“No one could be satisfied that so many people lose their lives in traffic crashes, but I am very proud of the many individuals, organizations, and state and local agencies that contributed to this noteworthy success in saving lives in our state,” Gregoire said. “There is more work to be done to make the roads safer for all travelers.”

A Washington Traffic Safety Commission analysis of 2007 fatality data pinpoints large reductions in speeding-involved (9 percent) and impaired driving-involved (13 percent) fatalities as main reasons for the drop.

Officials attribute Target Zero, Washington’s strategic highway safety plan, with helping lower the number of fatalities in 2007. Target Zero, developed by a coalition of traffic safety professionals, uses a data-driven approach to identify state priorities and effective strategies to meet them.

“We built Target Zero with the assistance of the broadest possible coalition. Other states look to Washington as an example of how to effectively build and deliver such an important piece of public policy,” said Steve Lind, the commission’s acting director.

The coalition included state, federal and local agencies; tribal nations; private organizations; and community groups.

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