Washington State DOT responding to increase in traffic fatalities, injuries

Report shows state not on track to meet zero deaths goal by 2030

December 13, 2019
Washington State DOT highway safety goals
WSDOT is building a diverging diamond interchange ahead of major development in Lacey north of I-5 to ease traffic congestion and reduce the potential for crashes. Image: WSDOT

Preliminary data from the Washington State DOT's quarterly performance report shows that the number of traffic fatalities in the state have increased from 462 to 547, and 18.4% jump between 2014 and 2018.

According to the Gray Notebook—the state's performance report analyzing highway safety and transportation asset conditions—during this same period, serious injuries resulting from traffic crashes increased 11.4% from 2,004 to 2,232.

WSDOT says these trends show the state is currently not on track to meet its goal for having zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the year 2030.

The Gray Notebook 75 outlines the agency's MAP-21 highway safety performance targets for 2019. It also notes that reversing the trend of increased traffic fatalities and serious injuries will require a well-coordinated multi-agency strategic approach to identify and outline the appropriate investments and actions such as the Strategic Highway Safety Plan—dubbed Target Zero

WSDOT says its safety program faces challenges due to a financially-constrained environment and the agency’s need to fund competing priorities such as preserving agency assets at a State of Good Repair. 

The agency says it spends approximately $50 million on safety improvement projects each year. For the 2019-2021 period, WSDOT has identified approximately $41 million per year for safety improvements. In addition, the state legislature appropriated another $26.5 million per year to support standalone projects identified by legislation.