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Successful Pre-paid Parking Program saves lives

 You may have heard the media encouraging folks who would be celebrating St Patrick’s Day over this past weekend to take advantage of the Pre-paid Parking Program.   If you aren’t familiar with the program, it’s part of Seattle’s  Nightlife Initiative seeking to enhance public safety while supporting local businesses and vibrant urban life.   It’s a safety project which was designed to deter people from driving when they have been drinking. Pay stations now open at 10 p.m. so drivers can pre-purchase up to two hours of parking from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the following morning. These drivers can then seek alternate ways home such as taking a cab or using late-night transit service and retrieve their vehicle the next morning without receiving a parking ticket.cocktial

As SDOT’s Director, Peter Hahn explains it: “This is a common sense effort using our existing parking meter technology to help discourage impaired driving and give people more options. We’re pleased that it has proven so popular.”

Popular is almost an understatement, since the pre-paid parking program was launched in April of 2011, people have used this service over 45,000 times, not counting this past weekend. Usage has continued to climb, from about 600 instances of use in the first month to an average of over 2500 pre-paid parking stickers issued every month in 2012. The Belltown North and Belltown South neighborhoods have seen the highest use throughout the city.

Impaired drivers account for nearly half of all traffic fatalities in Seattle. Impaired drivers are more likely to speed, more likely to be inattentive behind the wheel, and more likely to fail to yield to pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers. It takes impaired drivers twice as long to react when compared to sober drivers. Driving after celebrating is simply a bad idea. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates the cost of a single serious or fatal collision at $6 million. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that these collisions alone cost Washington state taxpayers approximately $665 million each year.  If you are out on the town, why not enjoy your night, prepay your parking and take the safe way home with a driver who hasn’t been driving.