Rep. Chris Corry, R-Yakima, has prefiled a road safety plan bill that targets reducing lane departure accidents and fatalities in rural communities. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has identified lane departure problems as one of the top causes of serious injuries on Washington’s roadways, especially in rural areas.
Corry’s transportation bill is based on research provided by the Washington State Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero. The plan offers several ways to address top areas of concern, including lane departure accidents.
The 14th District lawmaker’s proposal would establish the “Reducing Rural Roadway Lane Departure Safety Program” designed to help prevent lane departure vehicle crashes and fatalities.
“Putting this program in place is key to solving a long-standing transportation problem in our state: the number of deaths caused by lane departures. These fatalities have become far too common on many of our rural roadways,” said Corry. “By making proven lane departure safety measures available, we can reduce the risk of vehicle crashes and even the severity of accidents when they occur.”
House Bill 1605 would establish a program at the Washington State Transportation Department (WSDOT) that allows high-risk areas to request installation of several types of highway improvements, including:
- Painting wider markings on roads, visible for vehicles with lane departure technology;
- Improving lighting and signage;
- Applying surface road treatments;
- Removing or relocating fixed objects in the right of ways; and
- Widening roadway shoulders and/or modifying roadway design.
The Reducing Rural Roadway Lane Departure Safety Program targets help for rural, high-risk areas. Similar to other transportation projects, funding for the program would be provided every biennium in the state’s transportation budget. Any amounts allocated would be determined as part of the overall transportation budgeting process.
Over the course of nearly two decades, more than 200 people have lost their lives to automobile accidents involving a vehicle intentionally leaving its lane of travel. Corry noted that in 2019, this type of traffic collision made up 48 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.
“We know that lane departure crashes are a major contributor to traffic fatalities not only in our state, but across the nation. With this program, transportation improvements would be available for many communities. Approving this bill would be a big win for anyone who drives on Washington’s rural roadways,” concluded Corry.
The 60-day legislative session begins Jan. 10