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Buzzed Driving and July 4th Don't Mix - Police Cracking Down This Holiday Weekend
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438

Picnics, boating, camping and time spent with family and friends and, of course, fireworks, are some of the activities Oregonians travel to for July 4th celebrations. But for too many people, the nation's annual celebration is filled with tragedy, as it is the deadliest holiday period of the year on Oregon roads.
That's why Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers, county deputies and city police officers will focus on stopping drivers before they become involved in a crash or incident. With a main focus on impaired drivers, law enforcement in Oregon and nationwide will again be cracking down with an aggressive "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest" enforcement blitz starting 6:00 p.m., Friday, July 1st, and concluding 11:59 p.m., Monday, July 4th.
Statistics gathered from Oregon's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) over the past 25 years show that nearly half of all Fourth of July holiday period traffic fatalities were in alcohol-involved crashes. Similar statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that, on average, nearly half of all deadly national traffic crashes over the holiday period involved some level of alcohol.
Nearly 300 people have died on Oregon's roads during the Fourth of July holiday period since 1970. Last year, three people died in 2 separate fatal traffic crashes in Oregon. Two people died two years ago, and six traffic deaths were recorded during the 2008 holiday period.
"Our goal to save lives is simple but the task is challenging," said OSP Superintendent Chris Brown. "The solution rests in the hands of each driver making responsible decisions to drive safe and sober, and the work of police officers stopping those drivers who don't make the right choices."
Recent national statistics show during the 2009 Fourth of July holiday weekend, 410 people were killed in traffic crashes. Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. All 50 states have made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.
"We want people to be careful all weekend, but particularly at night," said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association (OSSA) President. "The national rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2009 was four times higher at night than during the day."
Impaired driving is one of America's deadliest problems. In 2009 alone, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, accounting for nearly 32 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States. That's an average of one impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes.
Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda, President of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), said that it's simply not worth the risk to you or to the thousands of innocent victims who are hurt or killed each year by drunk drivers.
"Alcohol impairs many of the skills that safe driving requires. Anyone caught driving under the influence will be arrested, face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses," said Miranda.
Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and Oregon Department of Transportation offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel:
  • Get rested before you are tested. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Be patient and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Pay attention. An inattentive driver is a growing safety concern on our roads and an increasing factor in traffic crashes.
  • Know before you go: 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.
  • Share the road. Don't tailgate and check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • MOVE OVER if you are approaching any type of emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle which is stopped on the roadside with emergency lights activated.
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.