Lethal crashes on Western Washington roads are at their highest quantity in over 30 years and troopers say they’re seeing extra instances of aggressive driving.
The Washington State Patrol’s Aviation Unit, which works with troopers and different legislation enforcement on the bottom, is making ready to develop its attain with a 3rd airplane geared up with HD and infrared lenses. The cameras enable troopers to trace harmful drivers in instances the place patrol automobiles will not be permitted to pursue.
KIRO 7′s Linzi Sheldon and photojournalist Jeff Ritter went up within the air with the WSP to see their detection and enforcement work in motion.
“We’ve solely been up within the air for a couple of minutes right here and we already discovered a automobile touring 20 miles an hour over the posted velocity restrict,” Trooper Anson Statema mentioned as they noticed a automotive going 80 miles an hour.
Within the again, Trooper Nick Schureman can zoom in on automobiles and observe their velocity as Statema flies the airplane.
Troopers additionally noticed a bike popping wheelies on the freeway, weaving, and splitting site visitors. Schureman recorded his high velocity at 145 miles an hour and helped troopers on the bottom comply with the motorcyclist safely and observe him to a warehouse.
“We see loads of… within the final two years, loads of harmful driving and drivers,” Statema mentioned. “Actually excessive charges of velocity, aggressive driving. Extra frequent situations of individuals driving at speeds over 100 miles per hour.”
The Washington Site visitors Security Fee initiatives not less than 800 folks died on Washington roads in 2023, which might be probably the most since 1990. And it’s not counting accidents, like these suffered by Carl McNabb.
“Luck to be alive,” McNabb mentioned from his hospital mattress.
On January 4, McNabb was within the backseat of a blue and yellow taxi heading north on I-5 going dwelling from the airport.
Prosecutors mentioned Lauren Wickers, whom they describe as a repeat DUI offender, was going the flawed means on I-5 and slammed into McNabb’s taxi head-on.
“Simply folks [being] very cavalier… taking any danger they need to, principally,” McNabb mentioned.
He’s recovering from accidents that embrace cranium and facial fractures, compound fractures to each femurs, and 4 damaged vertebrae.
“It’s a vital downside,” Adam Eucker with the King County Prosecuting Legal professional’s Workplace Felony Site visitors Unit mentioned. “We see the numbers proceed to go up.”
They charged Wickers with vehicular assault, violation of her ignition interlock system, and reckless driving.
Eucker mentioned they’re seeing extra drivers utilizing hashish and alcohol and utilizing them collectively.
“What we’re seeing is loads of instances involving velocity, loads of instances involving impairment,” he mentioned. “And people are two extraordinarily harmful issues to have on our roadway.
Eucker mentioned the KCPAO helps new site visitors security laws being thought of within the legislature proper now, together with reducing the BAC restrict from 0.08 to 0.05. The transfer noticed success in Utah when the state did the identical in 2019. The Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration discovered the state’s lethal crash price dropped by practically 20% within the first yr underneath the decrease authorized restrict.
KIRO 7 went via the Washington Site visitors Security Fee’s map of lethal crashes throughout Western Washington during the last 4 years.
KIRO 7 noticed a cluster on Evergreen Approach via Everett, alongside 99 and I-5 from downtown Seattle via North Seattle, and from Federal Approach via Fife and Tacoma on I-5. The map exhibits crashes alongside all main highways.
“What do you inform folks to do to guard themselves once they’re behind the wheel?” reporter Linzi Sheldon requested.
“Drive cautiously,” Trooper Statema mentioned. “Depart your self loads of following distance.”
He urged folks to place the cellphone down to cut back distractions and permit them to react shortly to a harmful driver.
“Transfer over to a special lane if it’s essential,” he mentioned. “Give them area. Don’t attempt to be the individual that’s going to get of their means or gradual them down.”
When you’re out of their means, Statema mentioned, name 911 from a hands-free system as quickly as safely attainable.
“Folks want to consider the others,” Carl McNabb mentioned. “And the implications… I simply know there’s a protracted street forward of me. And I may have simply been a goner.”
The WSP expects to get its third airplane with the sort of digicam early subsequent yr and is asking for funding for the same fourth airplane within the present legislative session.