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Statewide Transportation Safety Awareness Month Focuses on Awareness, Action
Sally Ridenour
Oregon Department of Transportation
(503) 986-3359
Shelley Snow
Oregon Department of Transportation
(503) 986-3438
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Governor Kitzhaber is showing his support for a statewide, month-long focus on transportation safety by proclaiming May “Transportation Safety Awareness Month.” Whether you are driving, walking, riding or bicycling, you’ll most likely see some reminder to be safe. It might be orange cones indicating a work zone; it might be a flashing crosswalk sign; or it might be someone on the radio saying, ‘Click It or Ticket.’ Whatever the message, the goal is the same: improve safety for Oregonians.
Preliminary numbers from 2010 show that Oregon experienced its lowest traffic fatality rate in decades, but safety advocates know that’s no reason to be complacent. The outstanding work of emergency medical service providers, first responders and law enforcement has contributed to the reduction in fatalities, as have improvements in road design and traffic management, but most important are the responsible actions taken by drivers, riders and walkers. Still, one loss of life is one too many; there are many steps people can take to reduce risks.
Work zones can be especially dangerous
May is traditionally the kick-off for road construction season in Oregon. Once again, construction work zones will appear on streets, highways and bridges statewide. Billboards, bus boards and public service announcements will remind people to “Respect the cone zone, better roads ahead.” That means 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. For 2010, preliminary numbers indicate nine people died in work zone crashes. In 2009, the number of fatalities was 18, while in 2008, there were five. All of the people killed were drivers or their passengers.
Law enforcement says “Click it or Ticket”
Although the majority of Oregonians do buckle up, every year, lack of safety belt use is a major factor in more than half of crash fatalities. For child passengers, it’s especially important to have the right safety seat or booster seat. According to the Center for Disease Control, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14. Beginning May 23, Oregon State Police, county sheriffs’ offices, and local police departments are participating in the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, focusing on enforcing Oregon’s safety belt and child occupant protection laws. People who need help with child safety or booster seats can attend a free child safety seat clinic. They’re held throughout the year at fire stations, car dealerships and other locations around the state (see www.childsafetyseat.org for a complete listing).
Improvements needed in pedestrian safety
Although the numbers show improvements in many areas of traffic safety, for pedestrians, the number of fatalities is up. Preliminary data says there were 62 pedestrian fatalities in 2010 vs. 39 in 2009. Pedestrian fatalities make up 20 percent (62 of 317) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities for 2010. Visibility is very important for pedestrian safety. Pedestrians need to take steps to make sure motorists can see them, and motorists need to make sure they see pedestrians.
Awareness and action are keys to transportation safety
Visibility and awareness are also keys to motorcycle safety. Governor Kitzhaber has also proclaimed May “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month” and reminds Oregonians to be alert and share the road safely.
No matter how you travel, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your safety and that of those around you:
  • 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 (including boosters) 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 curbs and intersections.
  • Share the road. Don’t tailgate and check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
  • 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.
Oregonians will have plenty of opportunities to gather other safety tips during May, as advocates around the state sponsor community events and awareness campaigns. Below is just a sampling (see a more complete list at www.oregon.gov/ODOT):
  • Month of May: National Youth Traffic Safety Month (www.NOYS.com) will focus on reducing texting while driving.
  • Throughout the Month: Crash Car Display, a reminder for young drivers to drive safe and sober, on display at high school proms and events in central, southern and eastern Oregon
  • May 4, 6, 21: Child Passenger Safety Seat Clinics in southern Oregon (see details at www.childsafetyseat.org)
  • May 5, 14, 18, 19, 25: Child Passenger Safety Seat Clinics in central Oregon (see details at www.childsafetyseat.org)
  • May 7, 8, 10, 14, 21, 26: Child Passenger Safety Seat Clinics in the Willamette Valley (see details at www.childsafetyseat.org)
  • May 7: Rogue Valley Safe Kids Safety Fair, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Wal-Mart, White City
  • May 7: Family Safety Day, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Douglas County Fairgrounds, Roseburg
  • May 18: EMS Day at the Capitol in Salem is a chance to recognize the important work that emergency medical service and first responders do in our communities.
  • May 20: Eagle Rock Elementary Safety Fair, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Eagle Point
  • May 23 - June 5: Click It or Ticket, statewide safety belt enforcement campaign
Additional resources, including the Governor's proclamation, fact sheets, statistics and more are available on ODOT's website, www.oregon.gov/ODOT.