Drugs increase as a factor in state traffic deaths

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Impaired Driving Deadly Crashes, Washington, 2015

Law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in extra patrols aimed at getting DUI drivers off the roads over this holiday season from December 15 to January 1.

“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) funds these extra patrols because we want every family to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones,” said Darrin Grondel, WTSC director. “Unfortunately, we are very aware that deadly traffic crashes can turn holiday dreams into nightmares.” 
“We are alarmed at recent increases in traffic deaths involving DUI, especially among drivers who test positive for two or more drugs, or both alcohol and drugs,” said Grondel. “Our agency is charged with examining every detail of every deadly crash. When we look at this data, we have to wonder why we are seeing so many deadly crashes where drivers are mixing drugs and alcohol,” added Grondel.

An example of one such crash occurred on February 28, 2016 at 1:00 am. A 28-year-old man was driving under the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. He entered I-5 near Tukwila driving the wrong way. As he traveled around a curve he crashed head-on into another vehicle traveling the correct direction around the same curve. The crash killed the impaired driver and seriously injured the other driver. Test results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.28 percent, 14 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) and a low amount of cocaine. He was unbuckled at the time of the crash.

The map shows this crash and all DUI crashes in Washington in 2015. None are recorded for Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, or Kenmore.

 “It makes it easy to see that nearly three times as many drivers involved in deadly DUI crashes had multiple substances in their bodies as those with only alcohol or a single drug,” said Grondel. 
“So as we travel this season, I would like to remind Washingtonians that mixing alcohol, marijuana and other drugs with driving can have devastating consequences. Give the gift of life this holiday season. Talk to your friends and family. Ensure they drive sober or find an alternative ride.”

In King County, multiple police forces, including Lake Forest Park and Shoreline, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the King County Target Zero Task Force.

View data about each crash here 


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