Updated on: 09/11/2023
Each year, the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day mark the deadliest on the road. In 2020 we saw a troubling trend of fewer accidents overall, but a much higher proportion of serious or deadly crashes. In 2021 the beginning of a “return to normal” led to the accident trends resembling the pre-pandemic rate. Unfortunately this was due to an increase in total collisions rather than a decrease in serious and fatal accidents.
The research team at Davis Law Group acquired accident data from the Washington State Patrol and analyzed it to see what the trends were statewide this year and compare it to trends we saw in past years.
Across the state, accidents were down year-over-year with 28,106 as compared to 29,095 total accidents in 2022. That rings true for serious and fatal accidents as well with 982 this year and 993 last year. This slight downward trend is consistent with data we saw pre-pandemic.
In terms of the incidence rates of total accidents and serious or fatal accidents, the per capita analysis shoes that 2023 rates were about the same as the 2022 rates. There was a slight decrease in the rate of total accidents, with a statewide rate of 363 per 100,000 people. In 2022 that rate was 376 per 100,000 people. However, this is the first time in a few years that the rate of serious or fatal accidents has remained almost the same with about 13 per 100,000 people.
While we do not know the exact cause of the plateau of per capita serious or fatal accident rate, it is a concern for the state as a whole. As events and construciton continue to increase, the number of cars on the road will increase as well. If the incidence rate starts to plateau, we could eventually see an increase in total crashes as well as an increase in serious injuries and deaths.
The main metropolitan areas of the state accounted for the majority of accidents. However, despite having the most accidents, King County had a lower incidence rate of srious and fatal accudents than both Yakima and Spokane Counties. In fact, only Spokane County had a lower incidence rate of all accidents than King County with 344 per 100,000 people compared to King County’s 386 per 100,000 people. In terms of accidents that resulted in serious injury or death, Spokane and Yakima Counties had 14 per 100,000 and 15 per 100,000 respectively. King County had 10 per 100,000 people.
No county had more surprising data this year though than Mason County. With twice as many serious and fatal accidents this year as last year, this was the county with the worst incidence rate in the state especially when compared to the more populous counties. As mentioned above, King County had aboout 10 serious or fatal accidents per 100,000 people. Mason County far exceeded that statistic with a staggering 138 serious or fatal accidents per 100,000 people.
What is more concerning, however is that there were actually fewer accidents overall this year, but more than twice as many that resulted in serious injury or death. In fact, over a third of this year’s serious or fatal accidents in Mason County did end in a death. Compared to statewide rate of under one fifth, or about 19%.
If you compare the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ in Mason County to the previous 100 day period, the trend shows that it was slightly less deadly, but there were more accidents overall.
If more measures are not taken to encourage safe driving, we may start to see more and more deadly crashes. It is not overly inspiring to see a small area like Mason County have the worse incidence rate of serious or deadly accidents. It is an area that acts as a thoroughfare to the plentiful nature on the Olympic Peninsula, but if the factors contributing to this spike in serious and fatal accidents are not researched and remedied it may become the most dangerous place to drive in our state.
As the weather becomes more and more unpredictable each year, it is best to remain cautious and educated when driving, especially in the summer when there are more people on the road, particularly teenagers and young adults.
With all that being said, back to school means teen drivers are on the road more consistently and there are more pedestrians around. That coupled with the holiday season coming up, which is the second most deadly time of year, just advocates that everyone be cautious behind the wheel and make smart choices when it comes to getting home from an event or party.
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