Washington State’s Target Zero Plan Aims to Decrease Auto Accidents Involving Young Drivers

Washington state has implemented a Target Zero plan that aims to achieve zero deaths or serious injuries on state roadways by 2030. As young drivers are often involved in serious auto accidents, the plan includes specific strategies to address and reduce risky behaviors.

Auto accidents continue to happen across the country, even when drivers are practicing safe behaviors behind the wheel. Of course, many auto collisions are caused in part by reckless, distracted, or negligent driving practices, and serious injuries or even deaths may occur. Washington state has implemented a bold plan called Target Zero, which aims to achieve zero deaths and serious injuries on the state’s roadways by 2030. There are numerous facets of this comprehensive plan, but the initiatives that focus on keeping young drivers safe are particularly ambitious. If you are a younger driver, or if you are the parent of a young driver, here’s a brief overview of what the Target Zero plan hopes to achieve within the decade.

Statistics Show Young Drivers Face Substantial Risks Behind the Wheel

The Target Zero plan defines young drivers as individuals who are between the ages of 16 and 25. The research indicates that young drivers are over two times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a crash that results in serious injury or death. Even though young drivers account for only 13.5 percent of the total driving population, they were involved in 34 percent of accidents with serious injuries between 2015 and 2017.  Young drivers are also more likely to engage in risky behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding or becoming distracted by a smartphone or other device. 

Areas of Improvement

The Department of Licensing (DOL) updated the Driver Guide and the knowledge test in 2016, hoping to cover more topics that were relevant for young drivers. The number of questions increased from 25 to 40, and test-takers were asked to respond to more questions that dealt with risky behaviours, such as impairment, distraction, and speeding. This longer and more comprehensive exam has prompted a noticeable decrease in the number of young drivers who pass the test. Proponents of Target Zero are hopeful that this more challenging test will encourage young drivers to study harder and take their responsibilities on the road more seriously.

Next Steps

Over the next nine years, Target Zero proposes a number of updates and changes that are intended to keep all drivers safe. For instance, by imposing nighttime driving restrictions for young drivers starting at 10:00 p.m. instead of 1:00 a.m., fewer inexperienced drivers should be on the road during these dark and potentially hazardous hours. The state may also require that young drivers log more practice hours before obtaining their license, giving them more experience behind the wheel. The ultimate goal is to keep everyone on the road—from truckers to pedestrians—as safe as possible.


If your young driver has recently been involved in an auto accident in the Vancouver, Camas, or Washougal area, contact the compassionate and trusted personal injury attorneys at Henderson Taylor Law Firm today by calling (360) 737-1478.