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Inside Olympia — Traffic Safety, Litter Prevention

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Recent studies show Washingtonians are dying in traffic fatalities at an alarming rate — plus throwing out 38 million pounds of trash each year onto Washington’s roads and public spaces.

This week on Inside Olympia, host Austin Jenkins interviews Shelly Baldwin, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and Amber Smith-Jones, State Litter Prevention Coordinator with the Washington Department of Ecology.

In the last two years, traffic fatalities have soared back to rates not seen in 20 years. During COVID, and continuing since, speeding has increased dramatically. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission found from a study of 280 locations in the state that only a quarter of drivers are at or below the speed limit, three out of four are speeding.

But it’s not just speeding that’s behind the rise in traffic deaths, it’s also impairment, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving.

Shelly Baldwin, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, talks about what’s happening on Washington roads, and what the state is doing to make them safer.

Plus, a recent study by the State Department of Ecology shows that The Evergreen State is above the national average in the amount of trash on roadways, parks and other public spaces.

It’s not just trash being thrown out the window. The study shows 39% of litter comes from unsecured loads, leading the state to fund local programs that offer free cargo nets to drivers.

And, focus groups with people who litter have yielded some interesting results. Like, trash begets more trash: when drivers see trash on the roads, they feel more free to throw their own out the window. And why do people throw litter out of their cars? Because they want their car’s interior to be clean!