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Transportation Final 01-15-11 -   1.1.e - Fatalities and Serious Injuries on State Routes and Interstates

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Transportation Final 01-15-11
1. Safety
2. Preservation
3. Mobility
4. Ferries
5. Stewardship
Action Plan

1.1.e - Number of Fatalities and Serious Injuries on State Routes and Interstates
Are fatalities decreasing on state routes and interstates? 

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Data Notes
Data Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) located at the WTSC; WSDOT DataMart in Transportation Data Office.  Fatalities recorded in FARS as of 11/22/2010.
Measure Definition:

Fatality: A traffic fatality in FARS is someone who dies within 30 days of a crash as a result of injuries sustained in that crash, which must involve at least one motor vehicle on a traffic way customarily open to the public.

Serious Injury: Any injury, other than a fatal injury, which prevents the injured person from walking, driving, or continuing normal activities at the time of the collision. Includes: Severe Lacerations; Broken or distorted limbs; Skull or chest injuries; Abdominal Injuries; Unconsciousness at or when taken from accident scene; Unable to leave accident scene without assistance.

Target Rationale: In order to achieve Target Zero, the State must experience 13 fewer fatalities per year on state routes and interstates.
Link to Agency Strategic Plan: Washington State's Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero, seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities on all public roads by 2030.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional death among Washington residents ages one to 44. Nonfatal injury hospitalizations are five times more common than fatalities and may result in lifetime disability (WA DOH). In 2005, the economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in Washington State totaled  $5.6 billion (WSDOT).

Notes: (optional)

Number of fatalities for 2009 is preliminary and subject to change as more information becomes available. FARS records information on over 100 different coded data elements that characterize the crash, the vehicle, and the people involved. The Washington State FARS team consists of two analysts located at the WTSC.
Also Available
Action Plan: Yes
Extended Analysis: Yes

 Drill Down Measures

 Summary Analysis

  • Traffic fatalities on state routes and interstates increased slightly in 2009, from 232 in 2008 to 236 in 2009, but remained very low compared to 2007's 275 fatalities.  The fatality rate on state routes and interstates, which accounts for the reduction in travel, reached a low of 0.75 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled in 2008 and remained unchanged for 2009, i.e., 0.75 fatalities per 100 vehicle-miles traveled (VMT).
  • The number of serious injuries on state routes and interstates declined from 1,282 in 2002 to 1,013 in 2008 -- a drop of 21%.  Of the serious injury collisions on state routes and interstates in 2008, 30% involved speeding, and 22% involved alcohol.

Travel: While there was a 2.3% increase in VMT on state highways in 2009 compared to 2008, fatalities increased by only 1.7% in 2009 on state routes and interstates compared to 2008.

  • In addition to VMT, other factors have contributed to the decrease in traffic fatalities, such as increased seat belt use, and road safety improvement projects.
    • Safety Restraint Use: Through well-designed media and high-visibility enforcement campaigns, the Click it or Ticket seat belt project increased seat belt use. The Nighttime Seat Belt Enforcement Program focused on nighttime seat belt patrols (see Action Items).  In 2008 the percentage of vehicle occupants fatally injured on state routes and interstates who were not using seat belts decreased to 24.8% (from 34.0% in 2007).  Unfortunately, in 2009 that percentage rose to 33.1% although the reasons for that increase are not yet known.
    • Enforcement: The X-52 project combines public awareness campaigns with extra impaired driving and speeding patrols. From 2007 to 2008, alcohol or drug-impaired fatalities resulting from crashes on state routes and interstates decreased by 24.6% and speeding-related fatalities on the same roads decreased by 27.5%. As with safety restraint use, both of these measures deteriorated slightly on state routes and interstates in 2009, from 95 impaired driving-involved fatalities in 2008 to 115 in 2009, and from 66 speeding driving-involved fatalities in 2008 to 73 in 2009.  At this time the reasons for these increases are unclear.
    • Highway Safety Projects: Increased installation of centerline rumble strips and cable median barriers have significantly reduced fatal and serious crossover collisions. Centerline rumble strips have decreased the rate of serious injury and fatal crossover collisions by 43%.* Cable median barrier have reduced the number of fatal and serious injury collisions by 58%.

*Note: This percentage has been updated from the data published in Gray Notebook 34.

 Follow-up:  US 2 Traffic Safety Corridor Update