According to data from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, the number of people who've died on WA roads is the highest since 1991.

  GOP Senator wants new legislation to combat the issue

Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) says according to a new report from the WTSC, that near-record numbers of people of all ages are dying on WA roads.

Padden says in 2023 810 people died in fatal crashes, up from 743 in 2022. Of these fatalities, a surprising number were drug or alcohol-related:

"Of these 810 traffic deaths, nearly half (400) involved a drug- or alcohol-impaired driver, while 251 involved excessive speed, 171 involved not wearing a seat belt or other restraint and 135 involved a distracted driver. What is so tragic is that these deaths could have been prevented if drivers were more careful and responsible. "

During the last legislative session, Padden sponsored a bill that would have started a program to evaluate the use of cheek swabs to gather impairment data when a driver is suspected of being under the influence, however, it fell just short of a full Senate vote.

Compared to the rest of the US, Padden says our numbers are not good:

 "According to a Seattle Times story on May 14 about the WTSC report, our state’s statistics run counter to national figures. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a 3.6% decrease in deaths on U.S. roads last year compared to 2022. Nearly every other state recorded fewer deaths than the year before. "

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However, Padden says it is encouraging to see increased funding and support for expanding the Criminal Justice Training Center will allow more officers to be deployed, but says ultimately, citizens also bear responsibility for making sure they're not impaired when they get behind the wheel.

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Gallery Credit: Sarah Jones



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