Drivers get credit for drop in accidents

Fewer accidents occurred statewide in 2011 than at anytime in the past 11 years, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Fewer than 99,000 collisions occurred in 2011, continuing a downward trend from the recent peak of 123,000 in 2005.

“Drivers get the lion’s share of credit for this improvement,” said Darrin Grondel,director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in a written statement. “Seat belts and air bags can reduce fatalities, but a reduction in collisions means there has been a marked improvement in driver behavior.”

Along with drivers, officials credit the coordinated efforts of state and local agencies to get the word out about traffic safety through the state’s Target Zero program.

More numbers:

•Injury accidents are down by about 20 percent, from the peak year of 2005.

DUI-related collisions are down about 21 percent.

Fatal accidents are down by about 30 percent from the peak year of 2005.

State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said the three most important factors are slowing down, paying attention to the road and driving sober.

“We don’t have to accept collisions as an inevitable fact of life,” he said.

Everett Mall Way turns

Carl Signs of Everett writes: Could curbing be installed on the double yellow lines (center turn lane) on Everett Mall Way? When westbound on Everett Mall Way approaching Seventh Avenue SE and Third Avenue SE, cars are always crossing the double yellow lines to turn into the Grocery Outlet at Seventh or McDonald’s at Third.

This blocks the turn lane for those trying to turn on Third or Seventh.

Corey N. Hert, associate traffic engineer for the city of Everett, responds: While the situation may be frustrating, drivers are entirely legal turning across the double yellow lines at both driveways.

Raised curbing could be installed, but the city of Everett tries not to restrict business access unless a significant operational or safety concern exists. Following observation and a review of the accident history, we found that vehicles waiting to turn left into these driveways occasionally cause the turn arrow to run out, but there is not yet justification to restrict turning in and out of these driveways. We’ll continue to monitor the access and take action if or when conditions warrant.

Lane lines missing

Kristy Ewell of Arlington writes: I was wondering why there are no lane lines on the road east of Smokey Point Boulevard on 172nd Street NE (Highway 531).

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: We checked with our striping crews to see when the lane lines were last painted. On most state highways, the stripes are refreshed every two years — or annually if it’s a high-traffic highway like I-5 or U.S. 2.

Our striping crews repainted the lane lines between Lake Goodwin Road and 11th Avenue NW early last month, and painted the lane lines between the I-5 interchange and Highway 9 four days later.

Email us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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