OLYMPIA – Legislation to increase road safety and decrease traffic fatalities was introduced in the Washington State Senate today.
Senate Bill 5982 would lower the blood alcohol limit for operating a motorized vehicle, while Senate Joint Memorial 8010 requests Congress to mandate the use of technology to prompt motorists to conform to local speed limits.
Both pieces of legislation come following reports indicating an increase in fatalities on Washington roads in recent years, and aim to make streets safer for all who use them.
SB 5982, sponsored by Sens. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) and Marko Liias (D-Everett), would lower the allowable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from .08% to .05%.
“Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100-percent preventable crash,” said Alex Otte, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “MADD supports efforts in the state of Washington to save lives and prevent injuries by lowering its BAC law to .05. Drunk driving is the No. 1 cause of traffic deaths, and recent data tells us there is a crisis on our roads.”
Following the implementation of similar legislation in Utah, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis found that the state’s rate of deadly crashes dropped more quickly than any other state in the nation and that alcohol was less often a contributing factor in car accidents.
“I spent over 31 years driving our roads as a Trooper in the State Patrol, and over five years serving as Snohomish County Sheriff. I know firsthand the devastation and grief that too often accompanies DUI related infractions,” said Lovick. “SB 5982 spares some of our families that grief by giving our local law enforcement another peaceful tool to help save countless lives. The jury is not out on this type of policy. It works and it can save lives.”
SJM 8010, introduced by Sens. Liias and Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way), would request that Congress enact federal legislation that mandates the use of intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) technology in new cars. ISA technology assists drivers in sticking to legal speed limits through advanced systems that detect local speed limits and alert drivers if they exceed the limit.
“We have seen too many folks lose their lives on our streets in recent months,” said Liias, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “It’s long overdue that we take meaningful action to make our roads safer for commuters. I want to thank Chair Homendy from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for her diligence on this issue, and for working with us on steps forward to ensure our streets are safe.”
“When NTSB recommended in 2013 that states lower their BAC levels to .05, we knew it’d save lives — a fact that’s recently been confirmed by NHTSA. We applaud Washington State for following the data with this legislation,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “We also strongly support state legislators’ call for widespread adoption of intelligent speed adaptation. This lifesaving technology is available now and should be implemented on all vehicles to address the public health crisis on our roads.”
Both pieces of legislation await further action in Committee. The 2022 session is scheduled to adjourn March 10, 2022.