Protecting Teen Drivers with 5 simple rules

October 16, 2015

5-to-drive-1National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, and the Washington State Patrol, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, numerous partners around the state, and the Department of Licensing want to encourage parents to use the “5 to Drive” rules to talk to their teen drivers about safety on the road.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens and young adults. In 2014, there were 530 serious injury crashes and 147 fatalities among Washington drivers between the ages of 16 and 25.

“Young drivers need extra support and parents can help reduce the risk of a crash by insisting teens follow our state’s intermediate driver licensing requirements and insisting on safe driving behavior,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We’re promoting the ‘5 to Drive’ rules as a simple, common sense way parents can keep teen drivers safe.”

Parents can easily ask their teens to agree to the following “5 to Drive” rules before handing over their car keys:

“Distracted and impaired driving can be prevented,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “This is an opportunity for parents to act as positive role models and talk to their teenagers about these simple steps to prevent tragedies before they occur.”

For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: www.safercar.gov/parents. It has detailed information and statistics, and informative videos designed to help save the lives of teen drivers.

The video below is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s YouTube channel. This video shows us why it’s important for parents to talk to their teens about this important issue.


Everyone has a responsibility to keep motorcyclists safe

May 7, 2015
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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the Department of Licensing (DOL), Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), Washington State Patrol (WSP), and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have teamed up to remind drivers of cars, trucks and buses to look out for, and share the road with, motorcycle riders.

“Motorcycle safety depends on safe driving and cooperation of everyone on the road, whether they’re on a bike or in a car,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “We’re getting closer to our Target Zero traffic safety goals but have more work to do.”

Target Zero is Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by the year 2030. In Washington, motorcycle deaths are not steadily declining like overall traffic deaths. From 2011 through 2013, motorcycles made up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles on our roads, but accounted for almost 17 percent of all traffic fatalities (225 of 1327).

In just the first four months (January-April) of 2015, there have been nine motorcyclist fatalities. The five year average (2010-2014) for this same four month time period is 12 fatalities. Speeding, running off the road, and riding under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are the main contributing factors in these crashes. Motorcyclists should always ride sober and within the posted speed limits, get the required training and endorsement, and wear DOT compliant helmets and protective gear.

Several projects are underway in Washington to reduce serious motorcycle crashes. A campaign called “It’s A Fine Line” promotes safe riding through social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. DOL training contractors are distributing motorcycle hangtags to dealerships statewide to encourage riders of all skill levels to get certified training.

DOL also produced a motorist awareness video that has gone viral. It’s titled, A Second Look.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative designed to encourage drivers of all other kinds of vehicles and motorcyclists to share the road with each other. For more information on motorcycle safety, visit www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.


VIDEO: Trooper speaks about dangers of impaired, distracted driving

September 9, 2014
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Trooper Sean Carr

(Seattle) The year was new, the weather still dark and cold when a threat to drivers intensified during the morning rush-hour on Interstate-5.

An SUV traveled south in the northbound lanes.

It struck one vehicle, then continued.

Then, it struck another. Still, the SUV pressed on.

Trooper Sean Carr heard the call from dispatch on that January morning.

    An erratic, wrong-way driver.

Carr understood the threat level.

“Lots of people are off to work, getting kids off to school or getting them to daycare,” he recalled months later.

As Carr travelled north on I-5, the SUV approached and showed no sign of slowing.

“I had to take her SUV head-on with this patrol car,” Carr shared.

Carr, whose wife and father-in-law are also state troopers, knew this was the type of moment he’d signed-up for when he joined the Washington State Patrol seven years earlier:  a moment to serve and protect.

Carr said he made a split-second decision.

“I knew there was a trooper behind me, who was actually a cadet, with his field-training officer riding with him. They were in direct line with the SUV behind me. There was plenty of northbound traffic already on the roadway… And I knew that she’d already struck two other vehicles and continued. And if I did not put myself in front of her, she was going to keep going.

“I made the conscious decision to sacrifice my patrol car, and even potentially sacrifice myself, to stop that (SUV) because as a state trooper, I believe in that; that I am here to run towards the gunfire.  I’m here to help people, save people and, if need be, to lay my life down for those people.”

The memory of the moment of impact on that morning nine months ago has stayed with him.

“I think about it every time I put on my vest on and jump in my car,” Carr said.

Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt.

Safety features built into the patrol car—crumple and crush zones—helped minimize Carr’s injuries.  His vehicle returned to the road after two-months in a repair shop.

Police said the SUV’s 19-year-old driver was intoxicated.

Carr is acutely aware that the driver and her passenger were fortunate to have survived.

“Absolutely.  And in previous years, I responded to, basically, a mimic situation: A young lady who was going the wrong way, southbound in the northbound lanes…. And she ended up striking a small pickup truck with two teenagers inside, of which the young  female teenager lost her life instantly. And the young male driver, he was in serious condition and in intensive care for several months.”

Carr recalled the moment when police first made contact with the impaired driver in that crash.

“We were literally putting the flames out on her vehicle while she was still in the driver’s seat with a broken leg. And she’s asking us, why did we pull her over?  She had no recollection or knowledge that she had just ended someone’s life and sent somebody else to the intensive care unit.”

Carr said that, in one year alone, he responded to three cases involving wrong-way drivers who were drunk.

“I personally can’t stress enough the importance of communicating with your kids,” Carr said.

“Parents need to talk to their kids about the fact that, you know what?  If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. But instead of risking your life and risking the lives of numerous other people, call somebody. Call your mom. Call your dad. Call your uncle. Call your aunt.  Your brother. Your sister.  Somebody that is sober and can come take care of you. You’d be better off calling mom and dad and letting them know that you’re not okay to drive, than me calling mom and dad and meeting them at the doorstep and telling them that you’ll never drive again.”

DOL produced the two videos below featuring our interview with Trooper Sean Carr. 


Don’t Let a DUI Ruin Your Summer Fun

August 12, 2014

Law Enforcement Will be out in Force on DUI Patrols

field--test-1Summer is a time for parties and picnics in the sun, but don’t let a DUI ruin your fun.  Even though Washington legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, it is still illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.

“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission Director.

“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” Grondel said.

That is why between August 15 and September 1 extra officers will be on our roads looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Many of these officers have special training to identify when a driver is under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.

Drivers are encouraged to find alternative transportation or ride with a sober designated driver. “More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, Commander of the Washington State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.

Lt. Sharpe noted that law enforcement has been arresting drugged drivers for a long time and will continue to identify and arrest drivers who make the poor choice to drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs.

Additionally, law enforcement reminds young drivers that impairment laws are much stricter for anyone under the age of 21. A young driver who has any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and is at risk for arrest.

One hundred and sixty-six law enforcement agencies in Washington have obtained grants to participate in this Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.  Police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Washington State Patrol will be working together to cover the state in extra DUI enforcement.

All of these extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com. Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website, www.wtsc.wa.gov.

 


New rest area signs help promote motorcycle safety

July 16, 2013

VIDEO

New sign at Maytown rest area

New sign going in at Maytown rest area on May 29th.

New signs aimed at making our roads safer for motorcycles now appear at two rest areas along the busy Interstate 5 corridor between Seattle and Portland.

The signs carry two motorcycle-related safety messages. The top half reads “Look Twice – Save a Life, Watch for Motorcycles.”

The message on the lower half of the sign is directed at motorcyclists, “Ride Safe, Ride Sober, Ride Endorsed.”

The state’s Department of Transportation installed the signs on May 29th at the Maytown and Scatter Creek rest areas south of Olympia.

The signs were paid for with federal motorcycle safety grant funds.

This project was created through a partnership between the state’s Department of Licensing, Traffic Safety Commission, State Patrol and DOT.

The signs are featured in a new video produced by the DOL.


New web service added to help drivers get back on the road legally

August 22, 2011


 

If your driver license is suspended due to unpaid traffic tickets, a DUI or a number of other things, it can be a challenge to navigate the court system to get it back. For the nearly 300,000 Washingtonians with a suspended license, things are about to get a little easier.

We’ve rolled out a new web-based service that shows people what they need to do and who they need to contact to get their license back. Users can securely enter their personal information and the system will provide a printable list of the court issues and state requirements needing to be resolved. It also provides contact information for each item. It is available at the DOL website. 

 


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.