From left, Vicki Clarke, Brock Howell, Megan Dunn, Liz Vogeli and George Hurst listen while Ed Engel speaks during a press conference for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Monday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

From left, Vicki Clarke, Brock Howell, Megan Dunn, Liz Vogeli and George Hurst listen while Ed Engel speaks during a press conference for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Monday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Advocates call for safer roads, sidewalks across Snohomish County

Several people marked World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims at one of the most dangerous roads in the county.

EVERETT — Policymakers and safe transportation advocates marked the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims by calling for safety improvements across Snohomish County.

A handful of people dedicated to reducing injuries and deaths from vehicle collisions gathered Monday at Airport Road and Highway 99, one of the county’s most dangerous intersections. As they decried the pedestrian collisions along the highway, a couple of passing pedestrians ran across the crosswalk while the crossing signal was solid red.

So far this year seven people have died on the highway, which also becomes Evergreen Way north in Everett, according to data compiled by the Snohomish County Transportation Coalition (Snotrac). Mobility justice advocate Ed Engel said fatal crashes on the highway corridor are at a 10-year high.

One of those killed was Donaldo Perez Perez, 35, who died on a Sunday evening in April after a driver hit him as he crossed the highway at Airport Road.

“Traffic violence is senseless,” Snotrac director Brock Howell said, later calling for traffic engineering changes and adoption of the Vision Zero approach that asserts all traffic deaths are preventable.

Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes, said the advocacy organization is asking state lawmakers to make roads safer through four policies:

■ Lowering the legal limit for alcohol intoxication to 0.05%.

■ Making driver education the default to obtain a driver’s license.

■ Limiting right turns on red lights.

■ Addressing passenger vehicle size and weight.

Lynnwood City Council member George Hurst holds a map marking fatal traffic collisions in Snohomish County since 2013 during a press conference for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Monday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lynnwood City Council member George Hurst holds a map marking fatal traffic collisions in Snohomish County since 2013 during a press conference for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Monday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Utah was the first state to drop its legal driving blood alcohol level to 0.05% in 2019. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found fewer traffic deaths after the change.

Earlier this year several state senators, including Democrats John Lovick and Marko Liias, introduced a bill to follow Utah’s lead. The bill was referred to the Law and Justice committee.

Once a Washington resident turns 18 they can take two tests, one written and one practical, to get a driver license. Clarke and others think education should be mandatory before someone can hop in a car and drive 50 mph on Highway 99.

Right turns on red lights create conflicts between pedestrians and drivers, Clarke said. That kind of rule leads to motorists being more aware of other vehicles than people outside of them, as evidenced when Everett City Council member Liz Vogeli sees drivers pull forward into crosswalks to turn, she said.

Vehicle size worries Clarke and other pedestrian safety advocates because of the weight and blind spots. NBC News estimated 64 children died in 2016 from injuries after a forward-moving vehicle hit them off of public roads hit by a forward-moving vehicle off of public roads.

USA Today reported in 2019 that large vehicles, especially SUVs, are growing in large part because of the market and money to be made from them. Clarke said she’d like the state to consider requiring SUV buyer education on the safety trade-offs for people not in the vehicle in the hopes it might curtail those purchases.

“We need bold action in the Washington state Legislature,” Clarke said.

Snohomish County has worked with cities and the state to make roads safer, County Council member Megan Dunn said. She cited work along 4th Avenue W, 128th Street SW, Center Road and Gibson Road.

Everett and the Washington State Department of Transportation lowered the posted speed limit on part of Highway 99 this year.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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