SEATTLE — Washington state is set to receive more than $9 million in grant money awarded by a new federal initiative to reduce roadway fatalities nationwide.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced Thursday the first round of funding for 510 communities as part of the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program.
Washington state will receive $9.1 million of the total $800 million grant. The money will be distributed to counties, regional councils and public works departments across the state.
The Puget Sound Regional Council specifically will receive $4.9 million for a safety action plan. According to the council, the grant will support the development of a regional safety plan and safety plans for the cities Burien, Everett, Kent, Redmond, and Tukwila, and Pierce County, Washington, with the goal of reducing roadway fatalities by 2030.
“This grant, provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, gives the Puget Sound region critical resources to advance a Safe System Approach regionwide. This approach is a proven way to turn the tide of preventable serious injuries and deaths on our roadways,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci.
The grant program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2022.
The USDOT also announced Thursday the National Roadway Safety Strategy Call to Action campaign. More than 40 organizations, agencies and businesses to committed millions to help reduce injuries and deaths on roadways.
Some of the notable organizations that have committed to specific actions as part of the campaign include the Washington State Department of Transportation, 3M, Uber, Lyft and the League of American Bicyclists.
"Traffic crashes cost tens of thousands of American lives a year—a national crisis on our roadways—and everyone has an important role to play in addressing it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today we are issuing a national call to action and asking all Americans—including private industry, non-profit and advocacy organizations, and every level of government—to join us in acting to save lives on our roadways.”
Traffic fatalities are near historic highs after a surge of dangerous driving during the coronavirus pandemic.
After a record spike in 2021, the number of U.S. traffic deaths dipped slightly during the first nine months of 2022, but pedestrian and cyclist deaths continued to rise. More than 40,000 people are killed in road crashes a year.
According to a preliminary report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 745 people were killed in crashes in 2022, the highest number since 1990. 2021 was also a deadly year on Washington roads with 540 crashes that resulted in the deaths of more than 600 people.