DUI patrols will increase across the state from now through Sept. 3 in an attempt to make one of the deadliest times of year to be on the road a little less deadly, said the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).
The Thurston County Target Zero Task Force, which includes various law enforcement agencies in the county, plans on escalating patrols for impaired driving as well.
In a release, the commission said that drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs are involved in almost half of all traffic deaths in Washington, and that in 2017, 250 were killed in such accidents.
“These tragedies are completely preventable,” said Darrin Grondel, the director of the WTSC. “As a community, we can end DUI-related deaths. We are asking for help. If you are in the position to prevent someone else from driving impaired, please be bold. Offer to call them a ride or give them a safe place to sober up.”
According to a WTSC report, the most frequent form of impaired driving is poly-drug use — consuming two or more drugs or combining drugs and alcohol.
As of 2016, WTSC said, 1 in 4 traffic deaths in Washington involved a poly-drug influenced driver, with the most common mixture being alcohol and marijuana.
WTSC said one explanation for this trend could be misconceptions about marijuana use, particularly among young drivers.
One statewide survey included in WTSC’s report found that among drivers between the ages of 15-20 who admit to driving under the influence of marijuana, over half thought the drug makes their driving better.
WTSC suggests people develop a plan for safe transportation prior to consuming drugs or alcohol. For advice on how to make a plan, go to http://wadrivetozero.com/DUI/.