A fatal year for Washington motorists
Experts haven’t seen this many deaths in over 30 years
November 16, 2023
The Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments (CWCOG) recently finalized a three-year contract with the Washington Transportation Safety Commission to operate the Target Zero program for Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and Lewis Counties.
The federal government requires each state to have a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP); Target Zero is Washington’s plan. The Washington State Target Zero vision is “zero deaths and serious injuries by 2030 from traffic involved accidents.”
Target Zero was created to “guide the community toward the vision of zero deaths on our road system,” according to Anisa Kisamore of the CWCOG. The program focuses on influencing driver behaviors that contribute to crashes. Efforts will address a variety of issues including engineering, education, law enforcement, and emergency medical services.
“Target Zero will focus on education training, and law enforcement activities,” said CWCOG Executive Director Bill Fashing. “Wahkiakum will have the opportunity to participate in special messaging and statewide opportunities to remind people to not drive drowsy, not [drive] under the influence” and not speed, he added.
These efforts have been ongoing for years, but are being looked at and organized differently for Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, and Lewis counties, said Fashing.
“In the past they’ve been staffed…in a totally different format,” he said. Safety experts are refocusing on education, particularly for students and residents.
There’s “more outreach to the general public, with an emphasis on youth,” said Fashing.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission and Washington State Patrol reported that 750 lives were lost in 2022 on Washington roads. As of July 2023, 417 deaths had occurred, compared to 413 the same period last year, making it the deadliest year since 1990.