Possible changes to "Target Zero" traffic safety program

Possible changes to "Target Zero" traffic safety program
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR is looking looking into changes that could be in store for the program aimed at cutting traffic deaths in Washington.

Managers are considering shifting money around, which could mean a loss of educational programs like "Every 15 Minutes."

Nancy McClenny-Walters lost her husband and daughter to a drunk driver.

"Starting out to share that story of what it was like be hit by a drunk driver is how I started out in this job," she says.

It's become her life's mission ever since. Nancy is the Target Zero manager in Walla Walla. It's a job she's done for more than two decades. Nancy handles a number of programs aimed at fighting drunk driving. Including a dozen educational ones like "Every 15 Minutes."

It's often presented during prom season to remind students that drunk drivers kill someone every 15 minutes in the United States.

"We have not had a serious injury or fatality since we started doing that program," she says.

But now the Washington Traffic Safety commission is looking to restructure the Target Zero campaign and consolidate management.
Nancy's job could be on the chopping block, as well as the programs she manages.

Law enforcement says those have made clear differences in our community.

"The state may try to have the communities absorb those programs on their own which smaller agencies like mine cannot afford to do that," says Walla Walla Police Officer Tim Bennett.

Directors at the state level say we just aren't getting as much money from the feds.

They're hoping a regional approach can remain effective. Extra money may be available for extra DUI patrols, but it means fewer boots on the street to educate people on traffic safety.

"It's really not about my job or the loss of my job, it's about the loss of the programs to our community, so however we need to keep them going, that's what we need to look at," Nancy says.

Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick have similar educational programs, but a majority of the money for the campaign is focused on those extra DUI patrols around the holidays.

The traffic safety commission will make a decision on the plan by the end of the month and begin the roll-out process in June when the manager's contracts end.