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Region Transportation Safety Newsletter, November 2014
Stay Alert During Peak Season for Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

October, November and December are the busiest months for vehicle-wildlife collisions. During this season, please be aware of the possible dangers associated with animals on or near our highways. Extra vigilance is required. The following information may help reduce these incidents:

  • The annual deer rut season typically lasts from late October to mid-to-late November, increasing deer activity in and around roadways.
  • During the next few months there will be fewer daylight hours and visibility will be challenged by darkness and winter weather conditions.
  • Be attentive at all times, but especially sunset to sunrise.
  • When driving in areas that have special signs indicating the possible presence of animals/wildlife, please use extra caution because these signs are posted for a reason.
  • Be extra careful in areas where there is a lot of vegetation next to the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road may not be visible.
  • Remember that the presence of any type of animal/wildlife could also mean that others are nearby.
  • When you see an animal/wildlife near or on the roadway, reduce your speed and try to stay in your lane. Many serious crashes are the result of drivers swerving to avoid wildlife or other obstacles and they crash into another vehicle or lose control of their own vehicle.
  • The same advice applies for smaller wildlife like nutria or raccoons - try to stay in your lane and do not swerve for these animals. They are less dangerous to vehicles than big game animals; losing control of your vehicle is a larger concern.
  • Always wear your safety belt, as even the slightest collision could result in serious injuries. 
Time is a ‘Changing

With the recent time change, it is a good time to remind motorists about the dangers of drowsy driving. While it may seem like people will get an extra hour of sleep, that’s not always the case. Any change in a sleeping pattern that can cause tiredness. That’s a risk that could be fatal.

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.


For more tips on how to “drive alert, arrive alive,” visit www.drowsydriving.org.


Buzzed Driving is Impaired Driving

As we move into the holiday season, ODOT is reminding motorists not to get behind the wheel if you are impaired. Safety advocates are urging travelers of all modes to make smart decisions: if you are on foot, in a car, or on a bike or motorcycle, plan ahead for safety, and be on the lookout for one another.

Driving under the influence – whether buzzed on alcohol or drugs – is illegal in Oregon. Even if you are using legal drugs like prescription medications, you can be arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII). Buzzed driving puts at risk not only the driver, but also passengers and others who share the road. Alcohol and drugs impair the part of your brain that effects motor skills, balance and coordination, perception, attention, reaction time and judgment. Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time enough to cause you to overestimate your own abilities as a driver.

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health roughly 1 in 9 persons aged 12 or older (10.9 percent) drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. In addition, 9.9 million persons, or 3.8 percent of the population aged 12 or older, reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year.

If you are celebrating this holiday season, follow these safety tips:

  • Don't drink and drive, and don't ride with anyone who has been drinking.
  • Never use illegal drugs.
  • Be aware of the affect your prescriptions and other medications may have on your alertness, and take necessary steps to avoid driving.
  • Volunteer to be a designated driver.
  • If someone who’s been drinking insists on driving, take his/her keys.
  • If hosting a gathering, provide non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Use public transit or local drive-home services provided by taxis and other companies.
  • If walking or riding a bike, enhance your visibility by wearing bright or reflective clothing or shoes.
  • Always use a seat belt.
  • Avoid travel after midnight, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Drive defensively at all times; be on the lookout for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • When you are entering a popular pedestrian area, expect that you may encounter them and slow down ahead of time.
  • Report drunk drivers by calling 1-800-DRUNK or dialing 911.

 Doobie = DUII. Drive Sober.


ODOT Motorcycle Safety Program Honored by National Group

ODOT Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Michele O’Leary was honored to accept the State Motorcycle Safety Administrators 2014 Outstanding State Award on behalf of Oregon at the SMSA annual meeting last month.

The SMSA Outstanding State Member Award recognizes a state with a comprehensive state motorcycle safety program whose implemented program goals and strategies were successful, effective and can serve as best practice guidelines for other states.
Michele O'Leary receives Motorcycle Safety SMSA Award
The 2014 SMSA Outstanding State Award was presented to ODOT in recognition of its comprehensive state motorcycle safety program for implementing strategies that are successful, effective and can be measured, evaluated and serve as best practices.

Oregon is a national leader in motorcycle safety education, program administration and licensing practices. “Oregon has made significant progress in reducing motorcycle crashes during the past three decades through efforts from the TEAM OREGON Motorcycle Safety Program, Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and various riding organizations and groups,” said O’Leary. “But we need everyone’s help to make the number of crashes go down.”

For more information about ODOT’s Motorcycle Safety Program, visit the program website.



Winter is Coming – Be Prepared

Oregon's weather can change quickly and without warning. In addition to our award-winning TripCheck.com website, our winter travel web page has tips, resources, how-to videos and more to make planning your next trip easier. We even have links to alternative transportation options. Know before you go.

NHTSA Traffic Safety Fact Sheets
Region 4 (Bend)
Region 5 (La Grande)
Archived Newsletters


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