Washington traffic deaths reached 33-year high in 2023, data shows

Last year, Washington reached its highest number of traffic deaths since 1990, according to data collected by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).

In total, there were 810 traffic deaths in Washington state in 2023, a 10% increase from 2022.

"810 is not just a shocking statistic. Every number represents a life lost. A lost family member. A lost co-worker. A lost friend. The people who mourn have had their lives changed forever," said Shelly Baldwin, Director of WTSC. "I hold them in my heart as I ask drivers to take the actions we know save lives. Drive sober. Be patient. Stay focused. Buckle up."

2023 also marked the worst year on record for pedestrian deaths (157) and motorcyclist fatalities (141).

WTSC says high-risk behaviors are the leading factor in these traffic deaths. In 400 deadly crashes, the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol, 251 fatalities were caused by excessive speed, and 171 deaths involved an unrestrained vehicle occupant.


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Data shows 135 people died due to distracted driving in 2023, which is a 36% increase in distraction-related fatalities compared to the year prior. WTSC says the 2023 numbers reversed a downward trend in distracted driving deaths that began in 2018.

Impairment, speed, distractions and not wearing a seatbelt are factors in over 75% of deadly crashes in the state, according to WTSC.

"This trend is not just alarming – it’s unacceptable," said Wahington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. "Driving sober, obeying the speed limit, avoiding distractions, and buckling up – these are all the safe choices – the right choices – that need to be made on our roadways. The cost of choosing otherwise can result in the loss of a life – a cost that is just too high."

To view the full data, you can find it on the WTSC website.


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