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Washington to participate in first ever nationwide distracted driving crackdown

National enforcement campaign taking place during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Olympia, WA – Law enforcement officers in Washington State will be cracking down on distracted drivers as part of a new national distracted driving enforcement campaign this month.

Between April 10 and April 15, the high visibility enforcement efforts will target motorists who are observed driving distracted — talking on hand-held cell phones, sending text messages, and otherwise not paying attention to the road while driving.

In 2013, researchers at UW Medicine’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center conducted a study of drivers in Washington. They found that nearly one in ten drivers was observed using a cell phone or texting behind the wheel. Among those driving distracted, nearly half (47 percent) were texting.

“We hear from citizens on a regular basis that they want stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws,” said Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director, Darrin Grondel. “This effort gives us the chance to provide funding to more than 100 law enforcement agencies throughout Washington to do just that.”

The slogan of the national campaign is “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” and is being carried out during the month of April, which is National Distracted Driving Month. This effort is modeled after similar successful high visibility enforcement campaigns such as “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

These and all extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.

SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission will be holding a special meeting on February 26, 2014 from 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m in the agency conference room located at 621 8th Avenue SE, Suite 409, Olympia, WA 98501. The purpose of the meeting is for Traffic Safety Commission staff to present their Local Implementation Program Recommendation. The presentation will be the sole topic of the meeting. Any questions should be directed to Darrin Grondel at 360.725.9899.

Traffic Safety Activist and Retired Trooper Mike Buckingham Dies at Age 61

SEDRO WOOLLEY, WA — Former Washington State Patrol Trooper Mike Buckingham lost his battle with cancer on January 2, 2014. He died in his daughter’s home in Sedro Woolley surrounded by family.

Buckingham was born in the United Kingdom on November 3, 1952 and later became a U.S. citizen. He spent most of his life living in Washington State and attended Washington State University. He went on to start his career as a Trooper for the Washington State Patrol.

In April of 1981, Buckingham’s career was cut short. Mike was driving on the West Valley Highway in Auburn, pursuing a driver who had been drinking and driving erratically. The impaired driver lost control of his car on a curve and collided with a car traveling the other way. That driver, in turn, crashed into Buckingham’s patrol vehicle. The crash left Buckingham pinned inside his patrol car unconscious as the vehicle burst into flames. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center where doctors – seeing his body covered with second, third and fourth degree burns – gave him a 10 percent chance of pulling through. Buckingham never regained memory of the traumatic event, but he did survive after the many months it took for his burns and broken bones to heal. He was never able to return to active duty with the state patrol. Instead, he dedicated much of his life to public speaking about traffic safety and impaired driving issues and consequences.

Buckingham felt his survival was a result of divine intervention and he survived to tell his story. His presentations, given throughout the United States and British Columbia, Canada, were to let others know that impaired driving affects us all. Impairment can occur after the first drink, and emotional damages, or post-traumatic stress is real and occurs often after a car crash.

The best ‘payment’ Mike received after doing a presentation was when someone would recognize him in public and say “Hey, I remember when you came to my school” – providing proof that something he said stuck with them. He wanted to make an impact.

The Washington State Patrol pays tribute to the men and women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty by selflessly placing the safety of others ahead of their own. They generated the Mike Buckingham Award to celebrate the survival of a Washington State Patrol employee who has been involved in a critical incident and suffered physical injuries.

Buckingham was also an integral part of establishing and serving on the Kent Police Department’s Drinking Driver Task Force; now known as the Target Zero Task Force, for over 30 years. He was instrumental in starting Kent Traffic School, presented at Kent’s 911 Driving School for the last 9 years, and consistently filled requests from Buckingham’s important driving message alive indefinitely, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission has produced a video which will be available shortly. He will continue touching and saving lives. A preview of the video can be seen at http://youtu.be/kkVfw3Ob3Sg.

Buckingham’s life will be celebrated at a service on January 16, 2014, 1:00 p.m. at the New Life Church, 15711 152nd Ave SE, Renton. At the family’s request, contributions in Mike’s honor can be made to a charity of your choice.

Governor Inslee Signs 2013 Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero

Olympia – Governor Jay Inslee has approved and signed the 2013 update of Washington State’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero©.

In 2000, Washington was the first state in the nation to set a very aggressive goal: zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Target Zero is a detailed roadmap that coordinates the efforts and funding of all traffic safety organizations across Washington State, uses the most effective strategies, and tracks progress toward the ultimate goal — Target Zero.

“We want all Washingtonians to join us on the Target Zero Team and continue our vision of saving lives,” said Darrin Grondel, Director of the Washington Traffic Commission. “We encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the priorities and strategies of the plan to positively contribute to safety on our roadways.”

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission created a video in which state residents were asked what they believe traffic safety goals should be for the state and for their families. The video explains Washington State’s goal of “Target Zero,” and can be viewed at http://youtu.be/zaT6d1pwBEE. Additional information on Target Zero is available at http://www.wtsc.wa.gov/target-zero/.

During the Holidays 49 Motorists will Die on Washington Roadways

Zero Traffic Deaths is the Target. Here are ways to Keep Your Family and Co-Workers Safe During the Holidays

This is one sample of news releases customized by county throughout Washington state.

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA — Hopefully 2013 will be different than the last five holiday seasons. From 2008-2012, an average of 49 people died in traffic crashes in Washington between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

DUI is still the leading cause of traffic death, however it doesn’t have to be that way and that is why between November 27, 2013 and January 1, 2014 extra officers will be looking for drivers under the influence on Washington roadways.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission recently asked people what the goal should be for the number of traffic deaths in Washington. Everyone indicated they would like to see fewer people killed. But when asked what the goal should be for their family members, everyone responded, “zero.” (Well, almost everyone. Visit www.WAdrivetozero.com to see what residents think about zero traffic deaths).

To reach zero traffic deaths takes effort from everyone. Please join law enforcement in working toward zero traffic deaths. Make sure all the people at your Thanksgiving table are also around to celebrate the New Year. Visit www.WAdrivetozero.com to review important safety tips, such as:

*Call 911 if you see a suspected DUI driver on the roads.

*If you drink, use marijuana, or take other drugs, don’t drive. Make plans before-hand for how you’ll get around.

*If you are hosting a party, make sure your guests get home safely! Plan to have sober designated drivers available. Buy a few extra air mattresses so guests can stay the night. If it’s an office party, limit alcohol, provide shuttle service or book hotel rooms. Remember, as a party host, you are liable for the actions of the people who leave your party intoxicated.

*Talk with your children about alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Help them understand the ways alcohol and marijuana use can harm their bodies, their brains, and their future. Let them know that they can call you instead of ever getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking, using marijuana or taking drugs. www.starttalkingnow.org

*Give the best gift of all at the Holiday Season with the Designated Driver Gift Card found at http://wadrivetozero.com/gift-cards/.

*Addiction is a complex issue. If you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol, marijuana or drug abuse, call the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1 (866) 789-1511. http://warecoveryhelpline.org/

The Arlington, Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, and Mukilteo Police Departments, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Washington State Patrol are working towards zero traffic deaths by participating in this Holiday Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. The Bothell Police Department will also conduct patrols as part of the Snohomish County effort.

The Snohomish County DUI & Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force organizes and supports this enforcement effort.

These and all extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.