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Zero New Year's traffic deaths

Nobody died in traffic collisions in this state during the New Year's weekend, which the Washington State Patrol attributes to increased awareness of the penalties and dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Washington State Patrol reported its troopers arrested 257 people for DUI between 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009, and midnight Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010.

Thirty three of those were involved in collisions and none resulted in fatalities.

Last year troopers arrested 291 people for DUI, with 42 involved in collisions and five deaths.

"I think what is happening, we're doing so much education on impaired driving, telling people there's other options, I think people are listening to what we are saying," said WSP spokeswoman Krista Hedstrom.

"We're seeing fewer DUIs and seeing them decrease year after year. I think people finally are starting to get the message," she said.

The only DUI arrest over the New Year's weekend in Clallam and Jefferson counties was one in Forks, Hedstrom said.

"We're focusing on enforcement and that's their warning, their chance to plan ahead. There's always a handful of people who never get it and safer cars always will be a factor and people are wearing their seatbelts. Combined with education and enforcement, that will help us reach our Target Zero goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030.

The Sequim Police Department reported 40 DUI arrests in 2009, including one on Christmas, but none during the New Year's weekend and no fatalities.

Sequim Police Chief Robert Spinks said a combination of safety efforts over the years have reduced the number of vehicle collisions, which still number about 250 in the city.

"The Highway Safety Corridor Project was a huge coordinated step focused on education, community outreach, enforcement and engineering," he said.

"The Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol then rolled out the Target Zero Program.

"Our agency was one of the first to partner with WSP to enhance enforcement as well as using newspapers and radio to push a safe driving message," Spinks said.



Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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