Target Zero Teams: 70 Lives Saved in King, Pierce, Snohomish Counties

June 30, 2011

Are you one of the 70? Is your spouse? How about your children? Your teacher?

Any of those could be among the 70 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties whose lives were saved since Target Zero Teams hit the streets one year ago. The $6 million demonstration project was launched July 1, 2010.

“We expected to see a reduction, of course. But this exceeds our expectations for the project,” said Lowell Porter, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. “70 lives in just three counties, in just one year.”

Of course it’s impossible to know exactly who wasn’t killed. But it is possible to say how many weren’t.

In each of the five years prior to launching the Target Zero Teams, an average of 203 people died in traffic in the three test counties. In the year immediately following launch, the number dropped to 133.

The Commission also found that deaths in King, Pierce and Snohomish compared favorably to two similar counties that were pre-designated as control counties for the Target Zero Teams demonstration project. Finally, while traffic deaths are trending down statewide and nationwide, the drop seen in the Target Zero counties is steeper than the general trend.

“We now believe this high-visibility enforcement strategy is impacting all crashes, not just DUIs,” Porter said. “When police are out in force, drivers tend to slow down and buckle up. That saves even more lives.”

At the core of the teams are 21 Washington State Troopers and sergeants, augmented by local sheriff’s deputies and city police officers as time and funding permit. The teams patrol in very specific places: areas where drunk drivers have killed in the past.
During the past year, Target Zero Teams from all agencies have arrested more than 3,400 impaired drivers. But State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste is quick to add that Target Zero is about much more than just making arrests.

“From day one we’ve said we would measure success by a reduction in fatalities,” said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “These interim results make us think we’re on the right track, and we look forward to final results after another year of hard work.”

Patrols are not limited to freeways or state highways. Troopers, deputies and officers go where the data leads them. That means state troopers might be patrolling city streets, or city officers on the freeway.


Family hopes their tragedy will push drivers to “look twice” for motorcycles

June 27, 2011

Need another reason to look twice for motorcycles? Robert Peffley’s family is sharing one from the heart; a story told in videos that are part of the state’s Look Twice, Save a Life motorcycle safety campaign.

In the summer of 2007, Peffley was riding his motorcycle near his Lynnwood home when a car turned in front of his bike, killing him.

Cathi Dykstra knows that the cause of her son’s death is a familiar one. So often, drivers  involved in these type of serious injury or fatality crashes with motorcycles say they never saw the rider. Just days ago, on Saturday, June 25, a 41-year old Port Orchard man was killed after a car crossed the center line on State Route 3 just north of Belfair, striking him.

Dykstra hopes that Pef’s story will reach people in a way that statistics and collision reports might not. Emotionally.

“When (doctors) took me in to see him and there he was, and all the light was gone. But there he was.  He was my baby boy…but not,” Dykstra shared on camera. 

After her brother’s death, Kimberly Peffley changed  her career path.  She now manages a motorcycle safety school, and calls her new job part of her therapy.

“I feel like I wanted to protect anyone out there who wanted to ride because he loved it so much,” Peffley said.

The Look Twice,  Save a Life campaign is sponsored by the state Department of Licensing, State Patrol and the Traffic Safety Commission.


As Spring arrives, so do the motorcycles

March 23, 2010

With warmer temperatures and sunny skies around the corner, the number of motorcycles on the roadway grows. 

The Washington State Patrol strongly suggests that motorists keep special watch for motorcycles.  For example, when stopping at stop signs, check twice before proceeding.

“With the increased number of motorcyclists on the road comes the potential for more motorcycle collisions,” said WSP Captain Ken Ginnard.

The WSP recommends that riders watch for road construction, traffic congestion and surrounding vehicles.  It’s a sentiment shared by Department of Licensing motorcycle safety technical specialist Tom Fite.

“Always be alert for sudden changes in traffic and keep a margin of safety around you,” Fite said.

Motorcycle collision data show that approximately 60-percent of motorcycle fatalities are single-vehicle incidents.  The most common causes of these incidents are excessive speed, impaired driving and the inability to stay in the lane of travel.

“Whether it’s your first ride of the season or you ride frequently, be mentally prepared,” Fite said. “Challenge yourself to sharpen your riding skills. If you are aware of any bad riding habits you have, now is the time to make a decision to change.”

The DOL and WSP require that motorcyclists be properly trained, always ride with their headlights on and that they wear bright clothing and proper safety equipment, including a DOT-certified helmet.  Riders must also have the proper motorcycle endorsement.


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