By Renee Diaz
Washington State Journal 

Effort to make roads safer has bipartisan support

 

February 2, 2023



Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and Gov. Jay Inslee say they are backing a package of new laws aimed at protecting workers, pedestrians and commuters.

New bills would include reducing the blood alcohol concentration limit for operating a vehicle when driving, imposing more restrictions on high-risk drivers and requiring a skills course for young and older drivers.

Amber Weilert, a mother from Parkland, described how her son was struck and killed in a crosswalk while riding his bicycle.

“I am here to be Michael’s voice to support him and make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Weilert said.

She asked lawmakers to think about her son and pleaded with lawmakers to make roads safer.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed support.

“I’m here because safety isn’t a partisan issue. It’s about all of us working together,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima. “When you look at a list of bills that are here. Most of them may have a Democratic sponsor, but I can tell you there are numerous Republican names right behind it,” he said.

The coalition backing the package includes: Inslee, Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, King, Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, and Rep. Sharlett Mena, D-Tacoma.

Many roads in Washington, like the one in Parkland where young Michael Wielert died, do not have sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists to use, according to bill advocates, and that puts people at risk.

“Our transportation system is not safe. People from all communities across the state of Washington are being injured and killed at unacceptably high rates. We cannot be numb or complacent to this,” said Kelsey Mesh, the Deputy Director of the Transportation Choices Coalition.

Inslee’s proposed 2023-25 budget includes $3 million to build nine crosswalk signals along SR-7, including Pacific Avenue in Parkland where Weilert’s son died.

The highest number of traffic-related fatalities Washington has seen since 1990 were recorded in 2022 when traffic accidents claimed 745 people.

 

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