According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 2010 was a historically safe year on roadways throughout the state. Traffic-related fatalities decreased by nearly 9 percent statewide to the lowest number since record keeping began. This reduction is a significant step towards meeting the goal of Target Zero, the shared goal of government agencies throughout Washington to end traffic deaths and series injuries by 2030.
The reduction in fatal collisions in 2010 can be attributed in part to the multi-faceted approach the Traffic Safety Commission takes to improving safety. Working with local municipalities, counties and law enforcement, they employ a data driven approach to identify issues and prioritize improvements. Solutions generally include strong enforcement of traffic safety laws, educational outreach (see examples of their educational work throughout this post), and engineering improvements.
SDOT frequently partners with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to help improve safety on Seattle streets. We are currently working with the Commission on the Aurora Traffic Safety Project which, as previously reported, has been able to reduced collisions on Aurora Avenue North by more than 20 percent in the past year. From 2006 to 2008, SDOT and the Traffic Safety Commission partnered on the Rainier Corridor Traffic Safety Project which improved safety on Rainier Avenue in Southeast Seattle. SDOT also seeks Traffic Safety Commission grants annually to fund school zone flashing beacons. Flashing beacons have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve safety in school zones and can currently be found at more than 35 Seattle schools.
While the decrease in traffic fatalities is encouraging, there is still much work to be done. Our streets would be immediately safer for all users if we all make the decision to follow the rules of the road, put down the cell phone, wear our seatbelts, and allow plenty of time to reach our destinations.