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Region Transportation Safety Newsletter, May 2014
May is Transportation Safety Month

Throughout the month of May, there will be opportunities in communities around the state for people to demonstrate just how important safety is to them. Governor Kitzhaber has shown his support by proclaiming May as "Transportation Safety Awareness Month" (PDF 95KB).

Awareness and actions are keys to transportation safety
Even though we are making progress toward our goal of zero fatalities on Oregon highways, there’s still a lot to do. Education, enforcement, engineering efforts and emergency response must continue. It takes a team approach to improve safety in our transportation system. With the help of our partners, along with thousands of volunteers around the state, we are helping people understand how important it is to do the right thing, whether it’s slowing down in a work zone, putting your child in a booster seat or taking the car keys from a friend who has had too much to drink.

Over two decades committed to work zone safety
May is traditionally the kick-off for road construction season in Oregon. Together with our public and private sector partners, we have been committed to work zone safety for decades. Pay attention and slow down in work zones. How Oregonians drive in work zones has a direct impact on their own safety, as well as the safety of workers. Six people died in work zone crashes in 2012.

No matter how you travel, there are some simple steps you can take to improve safety:

  • Pay attention: your life depends on it. An inattentive driver is the most common cause of work zone crashes.
  • Buckle up every time. Safety belts and child safety seats are the biggest contributors to saving lives in crashes.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists: Stay alert, be predictable, follow traffic signals, wear light-colored or reflective clothing, and be especially careful at intersections.
  • Share the road. Check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes. Don’t tailgate.
  • Don’t drive, walk or ride impaired. Alcohol, illegal drugs and even some legal drugs can reduce the ability to use good judgment.
  • Obey the speed limit. Excessive speed is a factor in many crashes and the most common one in crashes that result in fatalities.  
Click It or Ticket Safety Belt Campaign

Safety belts and child safety seats save lives. Safety belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and light truck occupants by 60 percent according to NHTSA. Oregon is one of the top safety belt use states in the nation – currently at 98.2% observed use rate for 2013 – and this has been a factor in reducing the number of fatalities in Oregon.

The greatest danger to unbelted children and adult occupants is ejection from the vehicle. Unbelted or improperly restrained occupants are five times more likely to be ejected than one who is belted. Air bags alone do not prevent ejection from the vehicle. Unbelted occupants can also slam into other passengers and injure them during a crash or sharp swerve. Odds of surviving ejection are estimated at one in four – compare this to a one in two hundred fatality rate for occupants who remain inside the vehicle.
More data: Traffic Safety Facts – Occupant Protection (PDF 572KB) 

Oregon sheriff’s offices, local police departments and Oregon State Police will participate on federal overtime enforcement grants from US Department of Transportation. Oregon’s second FY2014 safety belt overtime enforcement mobilization dedicated to proper safety belt and child restraint use is scheduled Monday, May 19 through Sunday, June 1. During this time, officers will be enforcing belt and child seat laws, educating the public on proper use and increasing belt use to save lives in Oregon.


Training Improves Motorcycle Safety

As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists will hit the roads. Oregon is a national leader in motorcycle safety education, program administration and licensing practices. ODOT-approved motorcycle safety classes are provided by the TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program.

According to ODOT data, very few trained riders die in motorcycle crashes. Unfortunately, 49 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes in 2012. Alcohol was involved in 40 percent of these motorcycle fatalities. Almost 50 percent were single vehicle crashes, meaning another vehicle wasn’t involved in the crash. In addition, almost 60 percent occurred on corners where the motorcyclist lost control and was unable to make it safely around the corner.

During May – and the rest of the year – drivers should safely “share the road” with motorcycles and be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They should obey traffic rules, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear a helmet and highly visible gear.


Learn more about TEAM OREGON motorcycle safety training 


Walk+Bike to School Challenge Month

You will likely see more kids and families walking and biking during the month of May as the Walk+Bike to School Challenge kicks off. The Challenge is a free, friendly competition aimed at encouraging kids to walk and bike to and from school and throughout their neighborhoods for the entire month of May. It is hosted by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) with support from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and other partners.

Some of the benefits of the Challenge are to enhance the health of children, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, create permanent, safe walking and biking routes, and improve neighborhood livability. Learn more


Bicycle Safer Journey Videos

Just as our beautiful Oregon weather arrives and more people are thinking about biking, FHWA has released their revised Bicycle Safer Journey training videos to help educators, parents and others who care about bicycle safety to get the conversation started with children and youth. The three videos are available online — one for each of three age groups — accompanied by a quiz or discussion and an educator's resource library can be used as an introduction to bicycle safety skills or to augment a comprehensive curriculum.

Bicycle Safer Journey videos


This Cinco de Mayo, Don’t Let Fiestas Lead to Fatalities

Every year on May 5th, people nationwide get together to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parties, festive foods, and lots of alcohol. The problem is, this holiday all-too-often leads to tragedy when people choose to drive drunk. Most people don’t plan to drink and drive, but unfortunately they don’t have a plan at all.

  • Before you start to drink on Cinco de Mayo, designate a safe, sober driver.
  • If you are planning on drinking, leave your car keys at home.
  • Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
  • If you spot a car that you think may have an impaired driver, call this toll-free number to report it: 1-800-24-DRUNK (1-800-243-7865).
  • And remember, if you know people who are about to drive or ride with someone who is impaired, help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely. If a friend is drunk and wants to drive, intervene and take the keys away if necessary.

Drive sober. Save lives.

Region 5 (La Grande)
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