Opinion

Speeders — State Patrol wants you

Throughout Washington State, between May 10 and June 6, extra law enforcement patrols will be looking for speeders, aggressive drivers, people who are unbuckled and impaired drivers.

Here is why: In Washington State, speed is a contributing factor in more than 35 percent of all fatalities and, in 2002, it hit its highest level in ten years, causing 39 percent of all fatalities.

Aggressive driving is also causing deaths. In 2003, on Washington roads, aggressive driving violations issued by the State Patrol were up 219 percent. Aggressive driving is defined differently than road rage and includes dangerous speeding (15 mph or more than the limit), and two other dangerous driving behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes or changing lanes without signaling.

The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1997) shows drunk driving deaths are trending upwards nationally, but Washington is bucking the national trend. There were 262 total drunk driving deaths in Washington during 2002, though DUI citations by the State Patrol have been on the increase as a result of intensive patrolling activity.

Although Washington has the highest seat belt use rate in the world, at 95 percent, in Kitsap County last year the seat belt use rate stood at 97 percent. Studies show that a person wearing a seatbelt has a 70 percent better chance of surviving a crash than a non-belted person, and a crash involving an unbelted vehicle occupant costs an average of $11,000 more in medical expenses than a crash involving a seatbelted occupant.

The law enforcement traffic patrols are reducing vehicle deaths. There were 130 fewer traffic deaths since the start of the Click it or Ticket Campaign. Injury collisions on Washington interstates were down by 11 percent in 2003.

During the campaign, extra law enforcement patrols from Kitsap County and approximately 150 other police and sheriff offices, as well as the State Patrol, will be working traffic patrols intensively.

In Kitsap County, there will be 370 extra law enforcement man hours working traffic patrols, funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Intensive patrols in Kitsap County begin on Monday May 10 and will run through the Memorial Day Holiday.

Buckle up and and slow down.

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