Washington drivers hit a record for miles driven in 2016. The Spokesman-Review’s “Getting There” column says we drove more than 60 billion miles last year. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s report, called Gray Notebook and covering the years 2014 to 2016, attributes the increase in driving to a healthy economy and growing population. Gas prices also dropped form over $4 per gallon in 2012 to about $2.47 last year, which didn’t discourage people from driving. All these factors increased congestion on major corridors across the state.
The report also says more than 40 percent of all carbon emissions in Washington state came from vehicles, and about 28 percent of Washingtonians used alternative transportation to commute, with a record 233 million rides on public transit in 2016. There were also 24,624 plug-in electric vehicles registered with the state.
The report says bridges across the state are in pretty good condition and 7% of the state’s pavement is in poor condition (up a percentage point from the previous period looked at by WSDOT).
Casualties on our roads is still an issue despite a state goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2030. Collisions killed 537 people in 2015 and 2016. One hundred and six of those deaths were pedestrians or bicyclists, almost 20 of total casualties while accounting for less than 5 percent of trips taken.
There is some good news about traffic deaths though- overall the rate dipped, down to 0.88 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.
Perhaps most important, the WSDOT also graded its rest areas in the Gray Notebook, giving them a B grade.