As a dedication to Michael Buckingham, of Kent who lost his career as a state trooper for the Washington State Patrol when he suffered severe injuries in a crash caused by an impaired driver, law enforcement throughout King County will be on a mission to remove impaired drivers from the roadways.
The Drive Hammered, Get Nailed extra enforcement patrols will take place between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1 and honors all DUI victims and their families in King County. Participating are the Bellevue, Burien, Clyde Hill, Des Moines, Issaquah, Kent, Mercer Island, Newcastle, SeaTac, Seattle and Snoqualmie Police Departments and the Washington State Patrol.
In April of 1981, Trooper Buckingham’s career was cut short after he was critically injured when his patrol car slammed in to a pileup between the impaired driver he had been chasing and a vehicle the impaired driver hit. The crash left Trooper Buckingham pinned inside his patrol car unconscious as the vehicle burst in to flames. It almost cost him his life.
In Washington state, the number one factor contributing to traffic deaths is driver impairment. During 2007, traffic crashes killed 568 people on Washington’s roadways. Impaired driver-involved fatalities accounted for 46 percent of the total deaths (263).
Law enforcement officials say that in the summer months – July through September – Washington experiences the greatest concentration of drinking (or drugged) driver-involved traffic deaths (32 percent of the total impaired driver deaths occurred during the summer months between 1997-2006).
Another factor is the time of day that traffic deaths involving impaired drivers occur. In 2006, during the nighttime, drivers involved in deadly crashes were four times more likely to be drunk than during the day (36 percent versus nine percent). More than two-thirds (70 percent) of impaired driver-involved deaths occur during nighttime hours (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) in Washington.
Although the emphasis patrol is occurring during the summer, law enforcement statewide conducts extra DUI enforcement throughout the year. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission funds grants for the extra patrols called X52, which is a part of Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, also known as Target Zero. The goal of Target Zero is to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.
More information about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is available at visit www.wtsc.wa.gov