The Washington State Patrol (WSP), in partnership with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) and law enforcement agencies across the state, began the “Home for the Holidays” traffic safety campaign recently.
The educational campaign will continue through New Year’s Eve with a focus on reminding and encouraging drivers to take extra precautions in adverse weather conditions such as snow, rain, ice and fog, WSP said in a news release.
WSP historically sees an increase in collisions of all types, as well as an increase in impaired drivers, during the winter months, according to WSP.
“Encouraging drivers to make good choices behind the wheel is especially important considering the rise of fatality collisions over the past several years,” WSP said in a news release, citing WTSC data that show there have been nearly as many fatal collisions through September 2023 — 578 — as compared with 582 in the same time frame in 2022.
“Fatality collisions are preventable tragedies, and we must all do our part in order to help save lives,” WSP Chief John R. Batiste said. “Buckling up, slowing down, and driving sober can help make sure we all make it home to our loved ones for the holidays.”
WTSC data show 776 lives were lost across the state due to traffic-related collisions in the months of October, November and December from 2018 to 2022. Of those tragedies, 40% involved impaired drivers, 30% involved excess speed, 16% involved distracted drivers. In total, 29% of those killed were pedestrians or pedal cyclists.
Proactive choices recommended by WSP for all roadway users include:
• Choosing to buckle up and ensuring all occupants are also seat-belted before driving
• Following posted speed limits and slowing as necessary in adverse weather
• Increasing following distance, especially in adverse weather and low light conditions
• Choosing to always drive sober
• Avoiding distractions, such as the use of a hand-held cellphone or watching videos while driving
“While we can’t prevent all collisions, buckling up and slowing down, particularly in wet conditions, dramatically improve the chances that drivers and their passengers will survive the crash and avoid serious injury,” WTSC Director Shelly Baldwin said.
WSP and WTSC encourage drivers to check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s websites for road conditions, especially when traveling over mountain passes, before hitting the road this holiday season.
Drivers are also encouraged to ensure their vehicles are road worthy by:
• Checking windshield wipers and wiper fluid
• Ensuring tires have proper PSI and tread depth
• Ensuring all lights are in good working order
• Checking emergency kits to make sure everything is up to date and readily available
For more information on the “Home for the Holidays” campaign, and for fall and winter driving tips, visit http://wsp/wa.gov/home-for-the-holidays.