From 2011 to 2019, 158 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in Thurston County. Transportation safety data allow our partners to identify their highest priorities and most effective strategies to improve safety for all people on our streets and roads.
In 2012, the federal government passed legislation called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The Act created a framework to measure states’ progress on meeting specific goals related to transportation, including safety goals. TRPC’s function as a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) requires us to work with the State to develop and adopt performance measures.
The five performance measures for transportation safety:
Washington State developed a Strategic Highway Safety Plan in 2019 called Target Zero, with a goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our roads and highways by 2030. The Target Zero plan identifies priority areas based on factors contributing to the number of fatalities or serious injuries.
Target Zero Contributing Factor Categories
In Thurston County, the most common factors contributing to traffic-related fatalities or serious injuries are:
Impaired driving is a significant and leading contributing factor in many of Thurston County’s driving fatalities over the past decade. Impaired driving was involved in approximately 67 percent of all driving fatalities in Thurston County in 2019, compared to 53 percent statewide.
Speeding is also a leading contributing factor in many of Thurston County’s driving fatalities over the past decade. Speeding fatalities are consistently overrepresented in Thurston County when compared to statewide numbers over the past decade, exceeding the statewide average for eight out of the past ten years. Speeding was involved in approximately 48 percent of all driving fatalities in Thurston County in 2019, compared to just 27 percent statewide.
Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, or eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving.
Distracted driving fatalities are consistently overrepresented in Thurston County when compared to statewide numbers over the past decade. Distracted driving was involved in approximately 42 percent of all driving fatalities in Thurston County in 2019, compared to just 27 percent statewide.
Thurston County saw a 3 percent increase in the number of distracted driving fatalities from 2011 to 2019. The number of serious injuries due to distracted driving increased as well, by 8 percent. This stands in contrast to a national decline in distracted driving fatalities and injuries during the same period. Young adult and teen drivers are most at risk, with drivers aged 15 to 19 more likely to be distracted than drivers of other ages.
At some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian.
Thurston County saw a small increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2011 to 2019. This mirrors a similar national increase of 5 percent in 2019 compared to the year prior with 6,590 pedestrians killed nationally, the highest number in over thirty years.
Since 2009, U.S. pedestrian fatalities have consistently grown year over year after a nearly steady decrease between 1988 and 2008. The number of all other traffic deaths has risen only 2 percent in the past decade.
Fatalities by Target Zero Category - WA State and Thurston County
Source: Washington State Traffic Safety Commission
What the Future Holds
In 2018, the Council adopted safety targets and integrated them into the Regional Transportation Plan to support the State’s Target Zero initiative. View Thurston County’s progress toward meeting the goals of Target Zero here.
The City of Olympia published a Street Safety Plan in 2020 that identified safety needs to address the most severe crashes. In the plan is a series of recommendations to improve transportation safety, which the City will look to implement in the future.
The City of Lacey published a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in 2018 with a focus on improving street safety and has a number of recommendations to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Thurston County’s Transportation Safety Plan and Comprehensive Plan both discuss the actions needed to improve roadway safety in Thurston County.
Sources of Funding
There are several funding sources that are used to advance transportation safety in Thurston County. The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a federal program that allows states, and the local governments within them, to target safety funds to their most critical safety needs. This program allows states to target funds toward critical safety needs to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on their roadways. Federal funding for projects that improve safety for pedestrians and other non-motorized users, such as the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program and the Safe Routes to School Program, is distributed through the State and TRPC .
Under United States Code Title 23 Section 409, this data cannot be used in discovery or evidence at trial in any action for damages against Thurston Regional Planning Council, or the jurisdictions involved in the data.