The Washington State Patrol and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission has joined with municipal law enforcement agencies to implement a program known as "Target Zero." "Target Zero" (TZ) is a public safety-based education and awareness program with the stated goal of reducing the state's annual traffic fatality rate to zero by the year 2030.
What is the program?
The TZ program is designed to increase driver awareness of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in the state as well as the types of driver behaviors that contribute to injuries. Its aim is not to focus on one particular cause of crashes, instead casting a much wider net that will encompass a variety of preventable situations that commonly lead to serious injuries or death.
The program was hatched partially to combat the growing rate of teenagers and other "novice" drivers who are being seriously or fatally injured in crashes. More people age 16 to 25 die in motor vehicle accidents than any other way in Washington, and that statistic is true in many areas around the nation.
One way that the "Evergreen State" hopes to turn the tide of traffic fatalities is by a unique combination of a multi-media campaign, higher visibility and increased patrols by officers specially trained to look for dangerous driver behaviors.
Several times a year - during peak periods of drunk driving, like the Christmas/New Year holiday season and the Fourth of July weekend - law enforcement officers around the state participate in so-called "high-visibility emphasis patrols" where they actually visit places (like bars, restaurants and event centers) where alcohol is served and caution patrons about increased DWI/DUI patrols. The idea behind the program is to deter drunk driving in the first place, thus making the roads safer for all drivers.
What types of accidents does this program combat?
Some driver behaviors have a greater tendency than others to result in motor vehicle accidents, and those core five accident causes are becoming more common in spite of increased awareness, public education and police presence. Furthermore, the accidents caused by those behaviors are more likely to result in injuries or fatalities; that is why the state is so aggressively trying to stem the tide through programs like Target Zero.
The five main reasons for injury-causing accidents in Washington are:
- Distracted driving - while most people think of distracted driving as being solely about cell phone use or text messaging behind the wheel, the blanket term also includes eating, drinking, grooming, being overly involved with passengers, reading, changing music selections, programming a GPS system or using a map, essentially anything that forces the driver to divide his or her attention between the roadway and another point of interest
- Impaired/drunk/intoxicated driving - driving while influenced by alcohol, drugs or another substance
- Aggressive driving - including speeding, changing lanes without signaling, following too closely and disregarding traffic signals/control devices
- Drowsy driving - driving while fatigued can be just as hazardous, in some instances even more so, as drunk driving
- Ignoring road or weather conditions - driving too fast for weather conditions or traffic congestion can easily result in a crash
Regardless why injury-causing accidents occur, transportation experts in Washington are making a concerted effort to decrease them. In the meantime, though, there are still thousands of accidents on the state's roads each year, some of them resulting in serious injury or death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Washington motor vehicle accident, you might be entitled to compensation, so consider speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area for more information.