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Toward zero deaths: Statewide safety plan moves Oregon toward no fatalities
Imagine a future where months pass without a single fatal crash on Oregon’s highways. That’s exactly what the new Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan (OTSAP) envisions, with a stack of recommendations and proactive strategies to help make the dream come true.
Recently approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission, the action plan is the result of two years’ review, updating, gathering input, revising — and updating some more. The renewed plan involved thousands of hours of work, led by the five-member volunteer Oregon Transportation Safety Committee (OTSC) and supported by safety advocates around the state.
OTSC member Victor Hoffer traveled to as many cities and towns as he could to talk about the plan, from Astoria to Burns.  “We heard from citizens, advocates, local fire departments, police officers and state troopers,” Hoffer said. “Their input helped form the foundation for an action plan that can help us achieve our vision.”
The plan’s approval comes on the heels of a banner year for traffic safety in Oregon. In 2010, Oregon experienced the lowest number of fatalities since the 1940s, at 317 – a 15 percent decrease from 2009 and preliminary numbers for 2011 indicate another low fatality year. Still, deaths and injuries from crashes are tragic, costly and unnecessary: more than 95 percent of all crashes in 2010 involved driver error.

Hoffer is especially proud of the increasing role emergency medical service (EMS) can play in reducing deaths and injuries. In addition to serving on the OTSC, Hoffer is a Salem paramedic and volunteer with the Mt. Angel Fire Department.
The action plan aims to address both driver errors and other contributions to crashes, injuries and fatalities. Last updated in 2006, OTSAP establishes goals, strategies and initiatives that address the core transportation safety challenges and opportunities facing Oregon.
In particular, the action plan identifies actions for special areas of emphasis that should be in place by the year 2020.  These include:
  • Focus on intersection crashes, roadway departure and bicycle/pedestrian safety.
  • Improve and expand driver education.
  • Create a plan to insure that safety is considered in construction/repair decisions.
  • Raise awareness and acceptance of the need for engaged law enforcement.
  • Establish a process to train enforcement personnel, attorneys, judges and DMV staff.
  • Continue public education aimed at proper use of child safety seats.
Implementation of the action plan is dependent upon the availability of funding. While moderate reductions in Oregon’s highway death toll can continue through current programs, a sustained, concentrated effort will prevent many crashes and save a significant number of lives and dollars.
See the full text of the plan on ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division webpage.