KING COUNTY, WA - Officers from jurisdictions throughout King County will be participating in a coordinated effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes over the upcoming holiday weekend. The effort will be focused along Highway 99, where five times the number of alcohol-related crashes occur compared to any other state highway in King County.
"We are pleased to see that fatalities resulting from drinking and driving are down," said Tony Gómez, Manager of the Violence and Injury Prevention Program of Public Health and Chair of the King County Traffic Safety Coalition (KCTSC). "With tougher impaired driving laws in place, and the efforts of the statewide community traffic safety task forces, including the King County Traffic Safety Coalition, we have had 60 fewer fatalities statewide this year as compared to last."
Along with regular patrols, additional police officers from Seattle, Tukwila, Shoreline, Sea-Tac, Federal Way, King County Sheriff's Office, and the Washington State Patrol will be out on the roads, looking to pull over drivers who:
- exhibit signs of impaired driving
- exhibit aggressive or erratic driving
- exceed the speed limit
- fail to wear safety belts
- fail to buckle their children up properly
In 1999, 635 people in Washington State were killed in traffic crashes. Nearly 200 of these people were in crashes that involved alcohol.
"Alcohol-related car crashes are the most preventable cause of premature death and injury in King County," says King County Executive Ron Sims. "If you are going to drink this holiday weekend, don't drive. Stay at home, take a taxi, or have a designated driver in the group who will not be drinking."
"This is a wonderful time for people to celebrate with friends, family, and loved ones," says King County Sheriff Dave Reichert. "We intend to keep it enjoyable for all residents by insuring public safety, which is our primary function as law enforcement officers. Please don't drink and drive."
The King County Traffic Safety Coalition is coordinating this multi-jurisdictional effort. Formed in 1998, the KCTSC is chaired by Public Health - Seattle and King County and includes the law enforcement agencies listed above, health educators, epidemiologists, liquor industry representatives, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, victims groups, traffic engineers, and numerous others.
Since the KCTSC began coordinating these traffic safety emphasis patrols in 1999, nearly 1000 people have been stopped for unsafe driving actions and 73 people have been cited with driving under the influence (DUI) during these patrols.
This holiday Traffic Safety Emphasis Patrol is one of several coordinated patrol efforts that take place in King County throughout the year.