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Safe and Courteous Driving

Program Manager

Kelly Kapri 
Phone Number:  503 986-3293
FAX:  503 986-3143   
ODOT - Transportation Safety Division - MS-3 
4040 SE Fairview Industrial Drive
Salem, OR 97302-1142

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Program Introduction

There are lots of things you can do to be a safer, more courteous driver.  The Transportation Safety Division has set up special programs to address the most significant causes of crashes – for example we dedicate resources to encouraging people to not drive drowsy, or not to follow too closely. 
In addition to these established transportation safety issues, there are several issues that we refer to as emerging, like distracted driving – either due to new technology, or increasing recognition of the problem due to changes in the state of driving in Oregon.
Below you will find a bit of information about these topics, along with selected links to agencies and organizations that are trying to make a difference with these problems.
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Alexxyss' Story

Alexxyss TherwhangerAlexxyss Therwhanger, age 19, was killed in a car crash on February 19th, 2016 while she was driving home in eastern Oregon. Alexxyss was using her cell phone and lost control of her car, colliding with an oncoming vehicle and severely injuring two other people. Alexxyss would have just turned 20 on May 28, 2016.
To make drivers aware of the serious consequences of driving distracted, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Police have produced this 30-second distracted driving TV PSA featuring Alexxyss' mother to persuade drivers to pay attention and drive without distractions, especially cell phones.

Distracted Driving TV PSA (extended version)

Work is ramping up statewide to reduce distracted driving - ODOT News Release 07-29-16 
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Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a driving problem that Oregon has been working on for many years. We've aired radio and television messages, outdoor ads, and more to try and raise awareness of the problems associated with distraction.
What is distracted driving?

Distraction occurs when a driver voluntarily diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver's eyes, ears, or hands.
There are four types of driver distraction:
• Visual -- looking at something other than the road
• Auditory -- hearing something not related to driving
• Manual -- manipulating something other than the wheel
• Cognitive -- thinking about something other than driving

Most distractions involve more than one of these types, with both a sensory -- eyes, ears, or touch -- and a mental component.

Distracted Driving Brochure

Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Survey, Final Report, Roseburg, OR 2016

Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Survey, Final Report, Bend, OR 2015

​“Distracted Driving” is a dangerous behavior for drivers, passengers, and non-occupants alike. Distraction is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead (per NHTSA). 
  • From 2011-2015 there were 9,951 crashes resulting in 54 fatalities and 15,150 injuries caused by crashes involving a distracted driver in Oregon.
  • From 2011-2015 there were 917 crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities and 1,330 injuries caused by drivers reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
  • From 2011-2015 there were 110 crashes, resulting in 0 fatalities and 166 injuries caused by drivers ages 16 to 18 who was reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
  • These crashes are underreported; convictions for this office during the same time frame totaled 94,099.

Cell Phone Fatalities, Injuries and Convictions Table 2011-2015


Distracted Driving Media and Information

Salem Police Department - Distracted Pedestrian/Driver

Watch a video about Teen Distracted Driving, provided by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office: 
Do the Math - wmv
One Call Can Wreck Your Day  - Cell Phone Ad - pdf
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Following Distance

Safe Following Distance, for example, everyone should know that it is an important consideration for safe motor vehicle operation. Although following distance related crashes rate 6 in the most common driver errors in Oregon for 2013, according to Oregon’s Crash Analysis Unit, the issues around following distance received infrequent attention in the media, perhaps due to the seemingly everyday nature of this type of crash. Rear end collisions are also a major source of property damage claims every year.

There is some dispute about what constitutes a safe following distance.  One measure is to identify a fixed point along the roadway, such as a pole or sign.  To determine the timing for your following distance, note when the vehicle ahead passes the object, then start counting one thousand one, one thousand two and so on until the front of your vehicle is even with the object.  You should have been able, at minimum to get to one thousand two.  We at safety would like to see you get to one thousand four, to allow that extra cushion of space.
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Red Light Running

Red light running is a significant cause of serious injury in Oregon.  Importantly, red light running is also a significant cause of debilitating brain injury, and death.  It is essential that every driver in Oregon heed the warning to stop on Red.   To address this serious problem, many communities have asked for, and received permission from the Oregon legislature to place special camera equipment at the worst of the worst intersections in the state.
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Lights and Swipes

The Oregon legislature felt so strongly about the need to raise citizen awareness of the need for using your headlights in inclement or low visibility weather that they passed a special law requiring an awareness campaign.  As you might guess, headlights help your vehicle to be seen more easily.  While there is some quibbling about exactly how much, major studies show that using your lights during the day, especially in bad weather, helps you to be seen a LOT.  These findings have been confirmed by the Canadian experience with daytime running lights.  Won’t you take two seconds to turn on your headlights when you need your windshield wipers? ​
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Drowsy Driving

Sadly, every year Oregon loses citizens to suspected or confirmed incidences of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.  Sometimes the loss of life is only to the driver.  All too often the loss of life is to a child passenger, or passing motorist who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The key to preventing these unnecessary collisions is to never drive drowsy.
In Oregon over the last five years, 54 people died in crashes involving a drowsy driver; last year alone 10 people died and 832 were injured.
Across the country, 28 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll, and more than half (54 percent) said they have driving while drowsy.
Watch for signs of drowsiness, and respond
If you experience any of the following, it’s time to get off the road:
·          Problems focusing, blinking frequently and/or having heavy eyelids.
·          Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating and/or hitting rumble strips.
·          Trouble remembering the last few miles driven or missing exits or traffic signs.
·          Trouble keeping your head up.
·          Yawning repeatedly.
·          Rolling down the windows or turning up the radio to “keep you awake.”
Getting sleepy? Here’s what to do
Find a safe place to pull over right away, such as a rest area or a store parking lot. Studies show a 15-20 minute nap can help restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and crashes. The National Sleep Foundation suggests drinking a caffeinated beverage, then taking a quick nap, and you’ll get the benefits of both. Whatever you do, it’s important to listen to your body and respond appropriately.
FIRST: Take steps to prevent drowsy driving
Here are some tips from the experts to prevent drowsy driving:
·          Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road. Adequate sleep for most Americans means seven to nine hours.
·          Going on a long drive? Use the buddy system – someone who is rested and awake for the journey and can take a turn behind the wheel or help identify the warning signs of fatigue.
·          If your trip is several hundred miles, take a break every 100 miles or 1½ - 2 hours. Do something to refresh yourself, like going for a 10-minute walk or eating something cold or frozen (avoid sugary snacks!).
·          Avoid alcohol and monitor your medications. Many people unknowingly take prescription and over-the-counter drugs that contribute to drowsiness – being aware of your medications’ side effects can help you better manage your driving.
·          Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
SECOND: If you get drowsy behind the wheel, immediately find a safe place to pull over, so you can refresh and/or rest.
·          Consume caffeine. The equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
·          Find a rest area, store parking lot, school or church parking lot and take a 20 minute nap, which is enough for most adults to be rest and re-charged.
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Get Noticed 

  Hang Up 

  See Red 

  Space Out 

Distracted Driving is a Killer

 NHTSA Posters 

 I Can Fall Asleep Anywhere

 Mommy Mommy Are You Asleep

 You're Getting Sleepy

Warning: This Vehicle is NOT Equipped with an Auto Pilot

Ever Get the Urge to Mow Your Lawn at Two in the Morning

Sick and Tired of Waking Up 
Sick and Tired



Distracted Driving - Eyes on the Road


ODOT-Transportation Safety Division offers dozens of free booklets, brochures, posters, stickers, and other materials designed to promote safe driving, biking and walking. These materials may be ordered directly from the ODOT Storeroom.  Free Publications Catalog   ODOT Storeroom Order Form

ODOT Storeroom
455 Airport Road, Building K
Salem, OR 97301
Telephone: 503 986-2782
FAX:  503 986-2801
Do not submit photocopies of the order form. Each order form is marked with an inventory control number and must not be duplicated.
There are no costs for ordering these public education and information items if the request is within the program limit amount. For larger orders, a special printing can be arranged at cost. The listings in this brochure are updated as materials are added and deleted.
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