Washington traffic crash fatalities reach 20-year high

Data reviewed by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission reveals road deaths in 2021 reached a 20-year high, taking 663 lives. 

"The increase in deaths on our roads is tragic," said WTSC spokesperson Mark McKechnie in a press release.

What’s more, preliminary data covering the first quarter of 2022 show an increasing trend of fatalities over the same time last year. To combat the rising numbers of deaths, the commission will launch one of the largest campaigns ever devised by the agency, aimed at reinforcing safe driving behavior.

"It’s as simple as reminding them to buckle their safety belt or put their phone away when they drive," McKechnie added. 

The commission’s announcement comes as Memorial Day marks the beginning of the "100 deadliest days of summer." Through Labor Day, more teens are killed in vehicle crashes than any other time through the year.

Monday evening in Graham, a vehicle traveling northbound on SR 161 lost control, rolled and veered off the roadway coming to rest on its top. A 35-year-old woman from Graham was behind the wheel, along with a 15-year-old in the passenger’s seat at the time of the crash. The driver died at the scene, said the Washington State Patrol. The official cause of the crash is under investigation, but troopers say neither person in the vehicle wore seatbelts. 

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To combat the rising number of fatal crashes, WTSC’s summer ad campaign "Together We Get There," is a call to action for families and neighbors to reinforce behavior that centers safety behind the wheel for everyone on the road. 

"Take an extra step and help someone close to you be safe, too," said McKechnie. "It’s as simple as reminding them to buckle their seat belt or put their phone away when they drive."