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Drunk drivers seemed to target troopers

t WSP says its vehicles hit twice as much as in previous year .previous

For unknown reason, the number of accidents involving drunk drivers hitting Washington State Patrol vehicles more than doubled in a year’s time, the agency reported.

In 2007, WSP reported 11 cases where impaired drivers struck a tropper’s vehicle. In 2008, that number jumped to 25.

“We are exceptionally fortunate that none of these incidents has ended in tragedy for a trooper and their family,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste in a press release detailing the increase. “And while we might be angry at the drunks’ behavior, we don’t want them to get hurt either.”

Batiste said about half of the incidents occurred when a trooper was parked beside the road, either talking to a driver about a violation or taking an accident report.

In one recent case, a trooper’s vehicle was knocked into a car that had already been in a collision.

“How drunk do you have to be to run into a marked police car with its lights flashing?” Batiste said. “These are all completely preventable events,” Batiste said.

In another recent incident, the WSP reports that a trooper and a trooper-cadet were injured by an allegedly impaired driver just south of downtown Seattle.

In other cases, troopers have been hit while stopped at red lights. Eight of the incidents of troopers’ cars being hit involved suspects who had been pulled over but apparently did not put their vehicles into “Park” and they rolled backwards into the patrol car.

The WSP can provide no explanation for the increase, adding that it has not changed any procedures or policies for how troopers park when contacting violators or investigating collisions.

Washington law requires drivers to move over if possible and slow down when they see emergency or law enforcement vehicles beside the road.

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