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Number of Kitsap car crashes up as rest of state goes down

Although the rest of the Olympic Peninsula counties seem to have gotten the hint, and crashes resulting from speed and impaired driving decreased last year, Kitsap County is an exception.

"We continue to stop people, arrest people, write tickets and we still saw an increase in collisions," said Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers arrested more than 800 drivers for impaired driving, up 2 percent from last year, and stopped almost 17,000 speeders, up 16 percent.

"With emphasis teams, we're being visible. Statewide, we're seeing a reduction everywhere. For some reason, in Kitsap County, it's getting a little higher," she said.

Collisions blamed on impaired driving and speed in the county were up 23 and 10 percent in 2009, according to a news release from the State Patrol.

The 10 percent increase amounts to the only collision increase in the district for 2009. There were 273 such wrecks in 2009 compared to 248 in 2008.

Kitsap reported the most impaired driving-related collisions than any other county in the State Patrol's District 8 with 117, compared to 95 in 2008.

The district also includes Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties. District-wide, impaired driving collisions saw an 8 percent drop.

She said Kitsap is by far the busiest of the counties in the district for road travel.

"We're not driving around at night with nothing to do, there's always something going on," she said. "Other counties you could sit an hour and not see one car."

Hedstrom identified several areas of interest where troopers have seen large numbers of speeders and collision incidents. State Highway 16 outside of Gorst, State Highway 3 near the Mason County line, North Kitsap's State Highway 307, also known as Bond Road, State Highway 104 approaching the junction of State Highway 3 and the Hood Canal Bridge are all areas where saturation patrols have occurred.

However, Hedstrom noted problem areas change over time.

Kitsap reported five fatal collisions in 2009, down one from 2008.

Statewide, 2009 had the least amount of traffic deaths since 1955 with 490.

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