April 25, 2024
Recent data from WTSC showed that 2022 was one of the most deadly years in traffic, with the highest number of traffic fatalities since 1990.

Recent data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) showed that 2022 was one of the most deadly years in traffic, with the highest number of traffic fatalities since 1990.
Preliminary reports show that 745 people were killed in crashes last year, as a part of a trend of the year-over-year increase in the number of traffic fatalities that have been occurring. In Washington state, there were 663 traffic deaths in 2021 and 546 traffic fatalities in 2020.
Washington state’s auto fatalities surge in 2022, study says
This aligns with data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found that alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 14,219 fatalities, 497,000 nonfatal injuries, and $68.9 billion in economic costs across the United States.
WTSC said impairment likely drove 2022 numbers, along with a high rate of speeding. During the pandemic, fewer cars were on the road, and more drivers were able to travel at higher speed. It appears many have not reduced their speed now that congestion has returned.
“During 2017 through 2021, 32% of fatal crashes in Washington involved alcohol-positive drivers,” said WTSC Director Shelly Baldwin. “Alcohol impairment, whether alone or in combination with other drugs, continues to be a leading risk factor in traffic fatalities.”
WTSC analysis shows impaired drivers are more likely to speed and less likely to wear seat belts. These factors increase crash risk and are more likely to result in death.
Washington bill would lower legal blood alcohol level limit
To combat this, State Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) is proposing Senate Bill 5002, which would reduce the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol content from 0.08% to 0.05%, making Washington the second state in the country to lower the DUI limit.
“Our roads are not as safe as they should be, and they are definitely not as safe as they could be,” Lovick said. “I see driving behavior that is beyond anything I could have imagined when I started as a state trooper over 40 years ago … It is very clear to me that drunk driving is impacting the safety of our communities, and it is time that we do something.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signaled his support for the bill, stating he’s convinced the change would cause people to moderate their drinking and driving behavior.
At a BAC of 0.05%, a driver has reduced coordination and ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and delayed response to emergency driving situations.
“The goal of this bill is not to increase the number of DUI arrests but to remind and encourage people to avoid driving after drinking and thereby save lives. This was the outcome in Utah, and we expect a similar impact in Washington State,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste.