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Get Life-Saving Tips During "Transportation Safety Month"
Troy Costales
ODOT Safety Division Administrator
(503) 986-4192
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438

Governor Ted Kulongoski is showing his support for a statewide, month-long focus on transportation safety by proclaiming May “Transportation Safety Month.” In 2009, Oregon experienced its lowest fatality toll on state roads since the 1940s, but advocates know that’s no reason to be complacent. Everyone agrees that one loss of life is one too many, and there are many steps people can take to reduce risks while traveling.
“ODOT and its partners have programs that encourage safety no matter what mode of travel, no matter where you are in the state,” Kulongoski said in his proclamation. “I encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance now and all year long.”
Travelers will have plenty of opportunities to gather safety tips during May, as advocates around the state sponsor community safety fairs, bicycle helmet fittings, child safety seat clinics, and motorcycle safety events. In fact, it was announced earlier that Governor Kulongoski also proclaimed May “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month,” when nicer weather begins to bring out riders to Oregon’s winding rural roads and scenic byways.
Construction season underway
Highway work zones can be especially hazardous, and more so for motorists and passengers than for workers. This summer, Oregon will have more than 165 work zones on state highways - a record number - so drivers need to be prepared to slow down and pay attention. Later in May, ODOT and its partners will hold a special event to distribute this season’s summer construction maps and highlight tips for travel safety (event details TBA).
Law enforcement says “Click It or Ticket”
Oregonians do buckle up - at a rate that puts the state third in the nation: 96.6 percent. That’s one reason highway-related deaths are down. Every year, lack of seatbelt 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. In 2009 in Oregon, one in three (32 percent) children under age eight killed or injured in crashes was using adult belts systems (223 children) or was totally unrestrained (22 children), rather than riding in child seats appropriate for their size. Throughout May, free child safety seat clinics will be held at fire stations, shopping centers and other locations around the state (see www.childsafetyseat.org for more information).
Beginning May 24, the Oregon State Police Patrol Division, 29 Sheriff Offices and 67 Police Departments are participating in concentrated “Click It or Ticket” campaigns, looking specifically for passengers who aren’t buckled up or are improperly buckled. A special focus this year is on pickup truck drivers, who lag behind other passenger vehicles in using safety restraints (91 percent) and on children who should be in booster seats (58 percent). Law enforcement will also be conducting a special campaign over the Memorial Day holiday targeting impaired driving.
Graduated Driver License marks 10-year anniversary
In 1999, Oregon instituted the second upgrade of the Graduated Driver License (GDL) for young drivers, including incentives to take formal driver education. Statistics over the decade show the reduction in serious crashes is significant, first for 16-year-olds involved in a fatal or injury crash:
  • 1998: 1,195
  • 1999: Graduated Driver License upgrades become law
  • 2000: 898
  • 2001: 809
  • 2003: 751
  • 2005: 657
  • 2007: 626
  • 2008: 516
Involvement in a fatal or injury crash for 17-year-olds also declined:
  • 1998: 1,497
  • 1999: Graduated Driver License upgrades become law
  • 2000: 1,201
  • 2001: 1,179
  • 2003: 1,075
  • 2005: 999
  • 2007: 961
  • 2008: 807
A 2005 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found Oregon’s GDL had even more positive impacts, including reducing crash rates specifically for young male drivers. Teenagers who took a driver’s education course also showed significantly lower rates of traffic convictions, crashes and license suspensions. Young drivers and parents can learn more about driver education in Oregon by visiting www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/drivers_ed.shtml.
TripCheck.com is also 10 years old in 2010
TripCheck.com, ODOT’s travel website showing statewide incident information, weather conditions affecting the roads and construction zone details, among other valuable travel information, launched in 2000. To celebrate its 10-year mark, the site is introducing a new Twitter service and an interactive format for iPhone users, as well as several new cameras around the state. See www.TripCheck.com for more information.
Partner involvement key to success
ODOT’s partners in emergency services, law enforcement and safety education are critical in helping Oregonians stay safe on while traveling. Improved training, updated equipment and expanded participation have all contributed to Oregon’s reduced highway-related fatalities. To learn more about citizen involvement in transportation safety efforts, visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS.