News In Brief
March 5, 2019
According to EducatedDriver.org, the average resident in Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma will spend approximately 9.88 days commuting in 2019, which comprises daily one-way trips of 29.3 minutes and round trips of 58.6 minutes. So drivers will spend about as long driving to work as kids spend on vacation for spring break - not that knowing that helps. To calculate the time spent in traffic, EducatedDriver.org used U.S. Census Bureau on city commute times, and then factored in average work and vacation times. New Yorkers will lose an average of 12.51 days a year and Los Angeles residents 10.25 days. Recently Kirkland traffic-data firm INRIX calculated that Seattleites spent 138 hours in traffic each year, which placed Seattle congestion sixth in the nation behind Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston at number one with 164 hours.
The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $3,500 and will advise City Council members against using private tally sheets to count votes ahead of public meetings under a settlement in one of two lawsuits that allege the council broke Washington's Open Public Meetings Act before its abrupt repeal of the business tax last year. The Seattle Times reports the settlement with Seattle attorney James Egan calls for a city payment of $1,000 in exchange for Egan dropping claims against Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Mike O'Brien. The city also agreed to pay $2,500 to address at least five alleged open meetings-act violations by Councilmember Lorena González. The second lawsuit filed by open-government activist Arthur West remains set for trial in June. City Attorney Pete Holmes maintains the council did not break the open-meetings law.
Seattle drivers lose 138 hours annually stuck in traffic - that's nearly six days spent in a car last year. That comes as no surprise, considering Seattle ranks as the sixth most congested city in America and the third for the number of hours lost per year. INRIX, a Kirkland-based company, calculated the worst daily drive from the outer fringe of the metro area, maybe some 20 miles away, to the core. Then they compared that to free-flowing traffic. Each driver loses $1,932 in operating costs like gas, the report says - that averages to 2.9 billion lost for the City of Seattle.
The city of Edmonds has earned a distinction it may not want - the highest rate of distracted driving crashes in Washington state, says a new study released in March. The study, by insurance comparison website QuoteWizard and based on figures from the state Department of Transportation, found that drivers in Edmonds are in a class by themselves when it comes to driving while distracted by their phone, food, music or some other factor that takes their attention away from the road. "The frequency of distracted driving accidents (in Edmonds) is nearly double that of SeaTac, the next city on the list, and almost triple that of neighboring Lynnwood," says the report. Altogether, there were 276 distracted driving crashes in Edmonds in 2017, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, among a population of 42,000 people - or one distracted driving crash for every 152 residents. Luckily, none of those crashes were fatal. Statewide, there were 11,504 distracted driving crashes in that one year alone. Of those, 87 were fatal.
The Seattle area may not have the best drivers when it comes to avoiding crashes, but we are among the least aggressive in the nation, a new study finds. Of the nation's top 30 most populous cities, Seattle ranks 29th on the aggressive driving list, according to GasBuddy. The app uses data from drivers who share their driving habits with the company to learn how they can improve their fuel economy. Seattle area drivers have just over 10 percent fewer aggressive driving incidents compared to the national average. Only Minneapolis ranks less aggressive at just over 12.5 percent below the national average. Portland is also considered less aggressive coming in at 27th. On the other hand, our neighbors to the south are the king of aggressive driving. Los Angeles rated the worst at nearly 22 percent above average, just edging out the "City of Brotherly Love" that apparently does not translate into the roadways around Philadelphia. But California had 4 cities in the Top 10, as Sacramento was third, San Francisco 5th and San Diego was 6th. The study also noted number which cities drivers have the "lead foot" and have the most speeding incidents and found Pacific Northwest drivers are more likely to poke along than zoom. Seattle finished dead last at 30th with a speeding rate nearly 71 percent below the national average, with Portland at 28th at 56 percent. (29th? New York. San Diego are the worst speeding offenders, ahead of Orlando and Detroit who tied for second. Whose drivers are the fastest to accelerate? Los Angeles and Philadelphia tied at 26.5 percent more rapid acceleration events than the average driver. Again, Seattle is near the bottom in a three-way tie with Portland and Pittsburgh at 25th.
If you're looking to live somewhere where innovation is king, Washington should be a strong candidate. The Evergreen State was recently named as the second-most innovative state in the U.S. by WalletHub, ranking only behind Massachusetts and just ahead of the "other" Washington -- the District of Columbia. Maryland and Colorado rounded out the Top 5. The study evaluated all 50 states plus the District of Columbia on 24 key metrics, including Projected STEM Job demand in 2020, highest share of science and engineering graduates who are over 25, and best Eight Grade Math & Science Performance. Washington ranked third in both Highest Share of STEM professionals and Highest Projected STEM Job demand by 2020, Wallethub said. We were the top state, only behind Washington, D.C., on highest share of science and engineering graduates who are over 25. And we ranked 5th in highest venture-capital funding per capita. Mississippi ranked last in the study with Louisiana, West Virginia, Iowa and Tennessee rounding out the bottom 5. Oregon finished 10th while California placed 6th.
Washington lawmakers have received updated revenue numbers that give them much more money to work with as they prepare to unveil their two-year state budget proposals.