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Region Transportation Safety Newsletter, April 2013
One Text or Call Could Wreck It All


April is Distracted Driving Month. Getting distracted while you’re driving can be catastrophic: In the past three years in Oregon, 41 people died in distracted driving crashes. Even if you were buckled up properly, obeying the speed limit and driving sober, a split-second distraction could cost a life.


Across the U.S., one of every ten fatalities on the nation’s roadways can be attributed to a distracted driver. While most any activity can distract a driver, one of the more common behaviors is using a cell phone. It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile communications device while driving in Oregon, for almost everyone, but people still do, and it’s dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Traveling 55 mph, 4.6 seconds of texting is like driving the length of a football field full of people while blindfolded.


Examples of distracted driving include using a cell phone, eating, grooming, or reading. Before engaging in a distracting behavior, consider the potential consequences, and then pull over to a safe place to perform the activity.


Click to watch: NHTSA PSA: "OMG!" 0:31
OMG! video

Here are a few other tips to avoid distracted driving, from the AAA Foundation and ODOT:
  1. Plan ahead. Check TripCheck.com or call 511 before you head out. Look at your route and plan your options for stopping.
  2. Stow electronic devices. You can retrieve them when you pull over.
  3. Buckle up. Make sure your passengers and pets are properly secured.
  4. Eat and be hydrated. Get a meal in before you get behind the wheel so you won’t be tempted to root around for food or drink while driving.
  5. Stow loose objects. The fewer things that can roll around and distract you, the better.
  6. Bicyclists and pedestrians: keep an eye and ear out for traffic.


Most importantly, “get your brain in the game.” Scan the road, use your mirrors often and stay alert. To learn more about the impacts of distracted driving and what you can do to prevent it, visit www.distraction.gov .
For more information about this NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing campaign, check out the
trafficsafetymarketing.gov website.


Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012 
A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased dramatically for the first six months of 2012, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240 — a 19% jump. The increase in teen driver deaths coincides with a projection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in which all traffic deaths increased by 8%.
It is particularly concerning that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths appear to have increased at an even greater rate. The GHSA advises states to focus on strengthening Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and programs that are data-driven. The organization adds that states should consider implementing parent programs to help parents keep their teens safe.
To see the full news release, including a link to the report, go to: ghsa.org.
(Source: GHSA News Release, February 26, 2013)
Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Mini-Grants
ODOT is partnering with Oregon Walks to administer Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Mini-Grants with local police agencies throughout Oregon to improve pedestrian safety by educating community members on Oregon's crosswalk laws through safety enforcement.  More info
Work Zone Safety: We're All in This Together
Orange cones on Oregon roads mean one thing: work zone ahead. And with that knowledge comes the reminder to motorists to slow down, pay attention to work zone signing and watch for roadway workers. The single biggest factor in crashes is driver inattention, and that's why orange cones, variable message signs and other tools are used to alert motorists. The other contributing factor is speed, which is why work zones either require or encourage lower speed limits.  The 2013 National Work Zone Awareness Week runs April 16-19.
Effort to Broaden DUII Laws Continues
An Oregon House committee is continuing its work on legislation broadening laws against drunken driving to cover other drugs. Go to the full article.
(Source: Statesman Journal, March 26, 2013)
Kids Under 18 Would Have to Helmet Up to Ride Bikes
Children under 18 would be required to wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard, or using roller blades or roller skates, under a bill in the Senate. Go to the full article.
(Source: The Oregonian, March 25, 2013)
Oregon House Votes to Extend Photo Radar in Work Zones
State lawmakers voted to make this law permanent and revised the law to allow police to use photo radar even when no workers are on site. Go to the full article.
(Source: Associated Press, Feb 28, 2013)
April 24-25 Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem
Learn from inspiring speakers, network with transportation advocates from around the state, and shape our transportation future. Learn more.
ThinkFirst Oregon Wins Award for Advocacy
ThinkFirst Oregon was voted ThinkFirst National Chapter of the Year for their work in injury prevention, community outreach, policy, and education. This is a prestigious award—given to only one chapter every two years—out of 150 national ThinkFirst chapters and 40 ThinkFirst international chapters. Learn more about ThinkFirst.

Traffic Safety Program Managers