Traffic accidents on County roads in Grays Harbor were at a record low last year, according to preliminary data released by the County.
There were 99 reported traffic accidents on County roads during the past year with no deaths, as compared with 109 accidents and three (3) deaths the previous year (2012).
Traffic accidents have declined 70% from a modern day record high of 343 accidents in 1976 to the record low of 99 accidents in 2013.
The reduction in accidents is the result of educational programs that have made people better drivers, DUI laws and more enforcement, improved vehicles and roads.
Injury accidents have declined 85% from 240 in 1976 to 37 reported last year. Seatbelt usage has been the major factor in this reduction, along with airbags and other improvements to vehicles.
The traffic accident rate per mile driven was 4½ times greater in 1976 as compared to 2013.
Accidents involving alcohol/drugs, speeding, granting right of way and driving over centerline have decreased significantly whereas accidents involving inattention, weather and defective equipment have not changed significantly in the past 20 years.
These state programs and legislation are an important part of this decline:
1971 Habitual Traffic Offender Law
1984 Mandatory Child Restraint law for Children Less than Age One
1986 Mandatory Seat Belt Law
1989 DUI youth Lose License for 90 Days or Until Age 19
1990 Mandatory Insurance Required
1993 Enforcement of Pedestrian Crosswalk Law
1995 Law Enforcement Authorized to Take Blood of DUI Suspect
1998 Drivers Arrested with BAC of 0.08 or Above
2000 Graduated Driver Licenses Law for Teens, Booster Seat Law, Target Zero Program
2001 Intermediate Drivers License Guidelines
2002 Click It or Ticket Program
2006 Impaired Driving Program, Night Time Seat Belt Enforcement Program
2007 Occupant Protection Program, Speeding Program “Slow Down or Pay Up”
Even though the Federal Target Zero Program seems unrealistic, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff Department is committed to reducing accidents and saving lives through education, awareness and enforcement programs.