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Plan Now to Drive Safely This Memorial Holiday Weekend
05/20/2008
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
 
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Office: (503) 986-3438

Not forgetting that last year's Memorial Holiday weekend was the deadliest in 25 years, Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will be working in partnership with county and city police agencies to prevent a repeat of last year's tragic holiday period by putting more patrols on area highways.
 
"We must remember that during last year's Memorial Holiday weekend ten people died in six separate fatal traffic crashes on Oregon highways," said ODOT Director Matt Garrett. "The summer driving season is kicking into gear so we must take time and the necessary precautions to get prepared and plan for where we are going and how we will get there safely."
 
The ten fatalities during the 2007 Memorial Holiday period (May 25 – 28) was the highest number since 1982 when eleven peopled died in Oregon holiday-related traffic crashes. Half of the fatalities involved motorcycle occupants as four of the six fatal crashes involved motorcycles. Sharing the road safely is of extra concern this year as travelers explore ways to minimize the financial impact of higher gasoline prices.
 
"The high number motorcycle-involved fatal crashes during the holiday period was surprising even though we anticipated more motorcyclists on highways and streets given excellent weather and rising fuel costs last year," said Captain Gerry Gregg, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division. "Just last weekend we had two motorcycle-involved fatal crashes, so now is the time to plan ahead with those working on our highways and streets to prevent a repeat of what happened last year."
 
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski joined ODOT and OSP with his concern to travel safely at all times.
 
"Take time to think about highway safety and each of our roles in saving lives," said Kulongoski. "Always use safety restraints, don't drink and drive, be patient while traveling, and look out for each other whether in another vehicle, on a motorcycle, riding a bicycle or walking on or near our roads."
 
Increased enforcement efforts planned as part of Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) during the Memorial Holiday weekend enforcement starts Friday, May 23rd, and runs through Monday, May 26th. These crash reduction enforcement efforts coincide with stepped up enforcement during the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign that started May 19th and ends June 1st.
 
As previously noted in ODOT's news release announcing participation in the "Click It or Ticket" campaign, Oregon currently stands number three in the nation for safety belt usage, at 95 percent. Despite having one of the highest usage rates in the nation, not using a safety belt was a major factor in half of Oregon's traffic deaths last year.
 
Police and highway safety officials agree that the proper use of safety restraints can save lives. Required by Oregon law means:
  • Using the entire belt system, lap belt across hips, and shoulder belt over collarbone and crossing center of chest;
  • Keeping your belts free of slack and lying flat with no twists;
  • Avoiding reclining your seat because the more you recline, the greater the possibility you will slip under and out of the belts in a crash; and
  • Placing children in a child safety seat or booster seat appropriately rated for their size.
 
With the extra safety restraint-related enforcement campaign already begun, OSP and local agencies continue to keep an eye out for the impaired driver who is a danger every day.
 
According to ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the highest percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities occurs during the Memorial Day holiday period. Based upon FARS statistics for 1985 – 2005, the following are approximate alcohol-involved fatality percentages for all major holiday periods in Oregon:

 
New Year's Holiday – 45%
Memorial Day Holiday – 56%
Independence Day Holiday – 50%
Labor Day Holiday – 53%
Thanksgiving Holiday – 39%
Christmas Holiday – 37%

 
A key part of all major holiday periods is putting out extra OSP troopers, county deputies and city police officers to increase enforcement and assistance using ODOT-provided overtime grant funds aimed at highway safety dangers. During last year's Memorial Holiday weekend, the extra patrols helped OSP arrest 88 drivers for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), make nearly 400 enforcement contacts for safety belt and child safety seat violations, and give help to nearly 300 disabled motorists.
 
In addition to special safety messages posted on several highway variable message signs around the state during the holiday weekend, the Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel:
  • Get plenty of rest before starting out. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Be aware that many road construction projects are underway around the state. The scope of work zones is projected to continue to increase through implementation of the Oregon Transportation Improvement Act, the biggest overhaul and modernization of Oregon highways and bridges in decades. Stay up to date on road conditions by visiting TripCheck.com or calling 5-1-1.
  • Even when workers are not present, all work zone speed limits still apply and fines double. Inactive work zones still have equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway so drivers need to slow down and be alert.
  • Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly.
  • Don't drink and drive.

 
Everyone plays an important part in keeping our highways and city streets safe. Immediately report aggressive, dangerous, and intoxicated drivers to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.
 
A recap of last year's Memorial Holiday weekend fatal crashes is available on the Oregon State Police website news release section at the following link:
http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/NEWSRL/news/05_29_2007_prelim_stats_memorial2007.shtml.