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Transportation Final 10-15-11 -   1.1.e - Fatalities and Serious Injuries on State Routes and Interstates

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Transportation Final 10-15-11
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 9/27/2011.
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 decreased substantially in 2010 on state routes and interstates, to 219 from 236 in 2009, a 7.2% drop.  One reason for this decrease was a 12% decline in impaired driver-involved fatalities on state roads.  Fatalities for 2008-2010 were very low compared to 2007's 275 fatalities.  The 2010 fatality rate on state routes and interstates  reached a low of 0.69 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled in 2010, an 8.0% decrease from the 0.75 rate for both 2008 and 2009 each.
  • The number of serious injuries on state routes and interstates declined from 1,035 in 2009 to 1,008 in 2010 -- a drop of 2.6%.  Among all serious injuries on state routes and interstates in 2010, 28% involved speeding drivers, and 19% involved drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Travel: While there was a 1% increase in VMT on state highways in 2010 compared to 2009, fatalities decreased by 7.2% in 2010 on state routes and interstates compared to 2009.

  • Several additional factors also 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: Partly as a result of impaired-driving enforcement campaigns, impaired driving fatalities on state routes and interstates decreased by 12% in 2010 -- to 106 from 120 in 2009.
    • 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