By Stefanie Donahue
Last year, 250 people in Washington state were killed in car crashes that involved an impaired driver, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC).
To keep drivers safe, law enforcement agencies in Whatcom and Skagit counties will increase Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) patrols on Friday, August 17 through Monday, September 3.
The patrols will take place during what is statistically the deadliest time of year for the state’s roadways, according to a WTSC press release.
Poly-drug use, which is the combination of two or more drugs or alcohol and drugs, is the most common type of driver impairment in Washington, according to a report from the WTSC.
The number of fatal car crashes that involve poly-drug impaired drivers has increased by about 15 percent each year since 2012.
The report states that since 2016, 1 in 4 of all traffic deaths in Washington involved a poly-drug impaired driver.
“These tragedies are completely preventable,” said WTSC director Darrin Grondel in a press release. “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.”
In a roadside survey conducted by the WTSC, more than half of drivers between the age of 15 and 20 who admitted to driving after marijuana use said they believed marijuana made their driving better.
“This is an especially dangerous belief if, for example, a driver uses marijuana to compensate for the consumption of another substance that impairs driving ability, such as alcohol,” said WTSC research director Staci Hoff PhD in a press release.
She added, “The deadly consequence of combining these two particular substances is very apparent in all our fatal crash data.”