Gun deaths outnumber vehicle deaths in Spokane

Gun deaths outnumber vehicle deaths in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. - 2 On Your Side looked into the latest numbers locally involving two serious topics: the number of deaths involving guns and the number of deaths involving cars.

It turns out, one of those numbers is dropping drastically.

In 2014, there were 45 fatal car crashes on the roads in Spokane County. At the same time, 65 people died in cases involving guns. However, this is not necessarily a story about gun violence.

When you see the scene of a serious accident, it does not easily escape your mind.

Every time you pass by a serious wreck, you almost always wonder: will it ever happen to me?

"Someone goes to turn off and they slam on their brakes and next person slams on theirs and it just becomes this domino effect," said Tory Wolery, a driver in Spokane.

Wolery was involved in a nasty car accident in the summer of 2014. So many months later, the trauma of that day is fresh as ever.

"I get really bad anxiety. I can't even be a passenger in a car because I'm constantly worried," said Wolery.

But instead of being worried about car accidents, the numbers suggest Tory may want to focus on gun related incidents.

According to a study by the Violence Policy Center, Washington is one of the 17 states where more people die from guns than cars. And Spokane is no stranger to that trend.

In fact, gun fatalities have surpassed car accident deaths every year since 2010.

Surprised? Safety analysts say this story has more to do with the success at reducing car crashes than the actual problem of gun violence.

For the past several years, the Target Zero campaign has reduced the number of serious car crashes in Spokane. By focusing on everything from seatbelt safety to catching drunk drivers more easily, car crashes have dropped substantially.

In that same time period, gun deaths have trended upward. Here in the Northwest, Oregon also had more gun fatalities than car accidents, proving that maybe our roads are not as dangerous as they used to be.

As for gun fatalities, the vast majority of those cases were suicides, so it is not as if random people are being shot around Spokane.

Currently across the country, Nevada has the most gun deaths compared to car accident fatalities.


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