OLYMPIA - Chief Ronald Serpas last week announced the Washington State Patrol's core mission and collision statistics from January 2002 - May 2003 compared to the prior 18 months.

"These are very impressive numbers that reflect positively on the men and woman of the Washington State Patrol, who are out on our highways making a difference," said Chief Serpas.

The quality of life in Washington state is heavily dependent upon the free movement of people and vehicles on our highway systems. The WSP has focused resources on the core traffic law enforcement areas of DUI, seatbelt compliance, aggressive driving, and dangerous speed to maximize the intended results of saving lives, reducing injuries, and protecting property which has a direct impact on improving the quality of life for citizens.

In January 2002, (18 months ago) the State Patrol started weekly accountability meetings to focus on the "core mission." The WSP believes the core mission is important because the enforcement of these four violations taken together may have the greatest potential to save lives and reduce injuries. In fact, a recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine supports the finding that traffic enforcement has a huge public health benefit. The WSP statistics support this.

Over the past 18 months, speed related collisions are down 4 percent, and collisions where a seatbelt violation was observed have decreased 29 percent. Fewer people are being found in violation of the seat belt law, which is a good thing, and likely a key cause in the reduced injury collisions.

The "core mission" statistics for January 2002 - May 2003 are:

• 28,811 DUI's were arrested, a 37 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 379,840 speed tickets were issued, a 57 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 119,755 seatbelt tickets were issued, a 84 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 49,441 contacts for aggressive driving, a 111 percent increase over the prior 18 months

In addition, the State Patrol is removing dangerous narcotics and narcotics traffickers from our communities. Narcotic and warrant arrests from traffic stops are up:

• 2,807 felony drug arrests, a 56 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 10,702 misdemeanor drug arrests, a 69 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 3,709 felony warrant arrests, a 37 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 13,099 misdemeanor warrant arrests, a 50 percent increase over the prior 18 months

Collisions investigated by the State Patrol from January 2002 - May 2003 are:

• 29,087 property damage collisions, a 1 percent increase over the prior 18 months

• 15,609 injury collisions, a 12 percent decrease over the prior 18 months

• 483 fatality collisions, a 6 percent decrease over the prior 18 months.

The Commercial Vehicle Division (CVD) of the State Patrol has made a difference in the last 18 months. Working with the professional truckers to make roads safer for all of us we've experienced the lowest number of fatalities involving commercial vehicles in four years.

• 234,496 commercial vehicle contacts, a 23% increase

• 163,719 commercial vehicle inspections, a 52% increase

• 18,552 commercial vehicle speeding violations, a 52% increase

"The outstanding work of troopers, commercial vehicle enforcement officers, and commercial vehicle officers impact lives and enhance the quality of life in our state," said Chief Serpas. "Effective law enforcement can make a difference, and I think the State Patrol is making a difference!"

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