Updated Washington Driver Guide now available online and in licensing offices

February 20, 2019

Washington Driver GuideAn updated version of the Washington Driver Guide, which outlines the rules for Washington’s roads and highways, is now online and available for download in seven languages. Hard copies are available in field offices across the state.

All versions of the guide are free.

The guide’s first revision since July 2017 adds new material on, among other things, safely exiting a vehicle; work zones; railroad crossings and the Emergency Notification System (ENS); bicycle boxes and safety; and ferry holding lanes.

You’ll also find information about REAL ID, a federal law that goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2020. As of that date, a standard driver license will no longer allow a person to travel by plane or access certain federal facilities. Learn more about REAL ID and what you’ll need.

The Department of Licensing periodically works with state, federal, and local partners to develop the driver guide, which is used by licensing offices and driver training schools as part of curriculum and testing. It’s a great resource not only for aspiring drivers, but also for long-licensed residents seeking a refresher or clarification on evolving traffic laws.

The guide covers a wide variety of topics, regulations, and signage that drivers need to be aware of in order to safely and legally operate a motor vehicle in the state.

“Careful attention to our driving actions and decisions is critical to making our roads safe for everyone,” DOL Director Teresa Berntsen writes in the guide, noting that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16- to 25-year-olds in the state. “The rules and best practices in this guide are proven tactics to save lives.”

To support DOL’s ongoing efforts to make Washington’s roads safer, Berntsen encourages readers to learn about Target Zero, the state’s ambitious traffic safety plan. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways to zero by 2030.

For that to happen, new and established drivers alike will need to lead the way. It starts with knowing the rules of the road, eliminating distractions, and patience and consideration behind the wheel.

To help, DOL offers a wealth of information on its website. You’ll find practice driver tests in English and Spanish, as well as step-by-step instructions for getting a license.

The latest version of the Washington Driver Guide features cover scenery from the Columbia River Gorge and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional), Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Japanese. There are separate guides for motorcycle and sidecar use and commercial drivers.


VIDEO: Trooper speaks about dangers of impaired, distracted driving

September 9, 2014
trooper-carr-2b

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. 


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.


State updating commercial driver skills test

August 31, 2011

truck and busThe Department of Licensing is updating the driving test taken by about 10,000 people each year seeking a commercial driver license (CDL) in Washington.

Starting on September 1, the test will require drivers to complete a third backing-up exercise. Along with this, the test’s scoring system is being updated to expand a tester’s ability to evaluate the driver’s performance during the road test. New testing procedures that will better measure a commercial driver’s ability to perform a commercial vehicle inspection will be adopted in 2012.

These changes, developed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and endorsed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will bring Washington in line with national CDL knowledge and skills testing standards. The new testing procedures have been added to DOL’s Commercial Driver Guide and more information about the changes also is posted on the Department of Licensing 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.


DOL staff receive statewide traffic safety awards

September 30, 2010

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has honored DOL staff members for going beyond their job duties and making outstanding contributions to traffic safety.

Tana Cochran, manager of the Driver Training School Program, won in the category of Young Drivers. She has made major improvements to the parents’ guidebook for teaching youth driving skills, coordinates a large yearly driver education training conferences for driver training instructors and has developed new ways to gather and analyze DOL data to help minimize teen driver collisions.

Bruce Chunn and Haiping Zhang’s Predictive Model Research Project won an award also in the category of Young Drivers. The project was created to research and create a predictive model for at-risk drivers. The project researched Washington driving records looking for a predictor of future collisions and correlation between traffic violations not including a collision, and the increasing probability of collisions. The project concluded that an individual who recently received their first traffic violation is twice as likely to have a collision, and 16 to 19 year-old drivers have approximately twice the risk of older drivers. As a result of the project’s conclusions, DOL has expanded the use of warning letters as an early intervention system for 18 to 19 year-old drivers who receive their first traffic violation.

Tony Sermonti and Mark Horner and their work with the statewide Text-Talk-Ticket campaign won in the category of Distracted Driving. Lead by DOL and the State Patrol, the campaign was a public awareness campaign preceding the new ‘primary offense’ cell phone law. The campaign designed and presented a new logo and slogan for distracted driving, Talk-Text-Ticket. The campaign included well-attended media events, a Seattle morning news show tour by DOL director Liz Luce, a video public service announcement, driver training school outreach and a tour of high schools and the Puyallup Fair with a vehicle involved in a fatal distracted driving collision. The kickoff message on April 30, 2010 reached more than 600,000 households, and the public service announcement received more than 500,000 unique visitors per month.


May is motorcycle safety month

May 11, 2010

motorcycle safety transit ad

By Tony Sermonti

A 22-year-old man was killed last week in King County after speeding, reckless driving and doing wheelies on his motorcycle. The man was ejected from his bike and died instantly after hitting a tree.

That collision underscores why May is motorcycle safety awareness month. Last year, 62 motorcycle riders lost their lives on Washington roads, and DOL is working with other traffic safety agencies to reduce that number to zero by 2030. DOL unveiled a motorcycle safety awareness campaign last week using transit ads, billboards and postcards to communicate with millions of drivers and about 27,000 unendorsed motorcycle owners.

Riders can be difficult to see on busy roads because of their smaller size and profile. Motorists should take an extra second to be aware of what’s around them. An extra look could save a life.

Motorcyclists have their own responsibilities – they share the same rules and responsibilities of the road. The top three rider-causes of motorcycle crashes are alcohol or drug impairment, improper lane position and speeding. To legally operate a motorcycle on Washington roads, riders must have a driver license endorsement – or they could see their bike impounded even after a simple traffic stop.

For more information about motorcycle safety training and motorcycle endorsements, go to the agency website at dol.wa.gov, or call the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program at 800-962-9010. The safety awareness campaign is funded with federal traffic safety grant funding through a partnership with the state Traffic Safety Commission.