WA lawmaker wants to make rural roads safer

By on Thursday, January 6th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – In advance of the Washington Legislature convening for a regular session Monday, Rep. Chris Corry (R-Yakima) has pre-filed a road safety plan that targets reducing lane departure accidents and fatalities in rural communities. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has identified lane departure problems as one of the top causes of serious injuries on Washington’s roadways, especially in rural areas.

House Bill 1605 would establish a program at the Washington State Department of Transportation that allows high-risk areas to request installation of several types of highway improvements, including painting wider markings on roads, visible for vehicles with lane departure technology; improving lighting and signage; applying surface road treatments; removing or relocating fixed objects in the right of ways; and widening roadway shoulders or modifying roadway design.

“Putting this program in place is key to solving a long-standing transportation problem in our state: the number of deaths caused by lane departures,” Corry said. “These fatalities have become far too common on many of our rural roadways. By making proven lane departure safety measures available, we can reduce the risk of vehicle crashes and even the severity of accidents when they occur.”

If approved, Corry’s proposal would establish the Reducing Rural Roadway Lane Departure Safety Program which provides help for rural, high-risk areas. Like other transportation projects, funding for the program would be provided every biennium in the state’s transportation budget. Any amounts allocated would be determined as part of the overall transportation budgeting process.

Over the course of nearly two decades, more than 200 people have lost their lives to automobile accidents involving a vehicle intentionally leaving its lane of travel. Corry noted that in 2019, this type of traffic collision made up 48 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.