Washington traffic deaths reach 33-year high

By on Tuesday, May 14th, 2024 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – Washington experienced 810 traffic deaths in 2023, according to preliminary data collected by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. This represents a 10 percent increase since 2022 and is the largest number of traffic deaths in Washington since 1990.

Fatality numbers increased across several categories. More pedestrians (157 people) and motorcyclists (141 people) were killed in Washington last year that in any other year on record.

High-risk behaviors continue to lead to increased deaths on Washington roads. These are the preliminary 2023 numbers and percentage change from 2022:

  • 400 fatalities involved a drug or alcohol-impaired driver (+4%). This is likely to increase as more toxicology results become available.
  • 251 fatalities involved excessive speed (-1%).
  • 171 fatalities involved an unrestrained vehicle occupant (+10%).
  • 135 fatalities involved a distracted driver (+36%).

Impairment, speed, distraction, and lack of seat belt use are involved in more than 75 percent of all traffic fatalities in Washington.

“This trend is not just alarming – it’s unacceptable,” Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said. “Driving sober, obeying the speed limit, avoiding distractions, and buckling up – these are all the safe choices – the right choices – that need to be made on our roadways. The cost of choosing otherwise can result in the loss of a life – a cost that is just too high.”