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"Don't Blame Your Driving Errors on Turkey" - 2008 Thanksgiving Holiday Traffic Safety Reminders
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Office: (503) 986-3438

(Note: Media requests for ride-alongs with OSP troopers should be directed to the local OSP office)
Unbuckled vehicle occupants, and speeding, fatigued and impaired drivers will again be the focus of increased enforcement efforts by police agencies in Oregon and around the country this Thanksgiving holiday extended weekend.
Thanksgiving Safety 
During the longest major holiday period of the year, the 102-hour holiday period starting Wednesday afternoon, November 26th, through Sunday, November 30th, 2008, Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers, county sheriff deputies, and city police officers are joining partner agencies and highway safety advocates with one common goal – reduce crashes, injuries and associated deaths on our highways and streets.
In the 31st year of the Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) program, many law enforcement agencies around the nation work together to deter the three leading causes of highway fatalities: speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints. Operation C.A.R.E. was launched in 1977 by state troopers in Michigan and Indiana, and it grew quickly as a nationally multi-jurisdictional effort during major holiday periods.
"Many people still ignore or fail to recognize the dangers of speeding, fatigued and impaired driving, and not securing themselves and children in safety restraints," said Captain Gerry Gregg, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division. "Our troopers won't be sitting in the car to remind you to slow down, buckle up, and drive sober, but we will be watching for those who need to be reminded or removed off our highways. This is something that you, your family and friends, and many others traveling on our roads will be thankful for."
OSP offices have plans focused on problem areas and associated crash factors to help guide enforcement efforts. Some examples of local holiday tactical planning include:
  • Willamette Valley area OSP troopers will increase enforcement presence on multiple area highways and Interstate 5. On Saturday, extra OSP personnel will work with local police agencies targeting highways into Corvallis to handle Civil War-related traffic and associated problems.
  • OSP Klamath Falls troopers, Klamath County Sheriff's Office, Klamath Falls Police Department, and the Klamath County DUII Task Force will be conducting multi-agency DUII enforcement patrols Friday and Saturday. A similar multi-agency enforcement effort last year in this area reported 19 DUII arrests by OSP during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend period.
  • OSP Coos Bay troopers focusing enforcement efforts on Highway 38 and Highway 42.
  • OSP Roseburg troopers' enforcement efforts will be on Interstate 5 with heavy focus on Wednesday and Sunday travel days.
  • OSP Bend troopers are focusing enforcement efforts on the Santiam Pass and Highway 97 where high speeds, aggressive drivers and potential weather problems pose significant traffic safety issues for travelers.
  • OSP troopers working out of The Dalles will be targeting Interstate 84 construction zones between The Dalles and Cascade Locks. These locations have reduced traffic lanes where inattentive drivers were involved in recent traffic crashes because they failed to merge into the available single lane at a safe distance prior to entering the work zone.
According to ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) four people died last year in four separate single-vehicle fatal traffic crashes in Marion (two) and Washington counties, and in Portland. Two of the four fatalities involved an alcohol impaired driver. During the 2006 Thanksgiving holiday period eight people were killed in seven separate crashes, of which nearly half were not using safety restraints. Since 1970, there have been 227 traffic-related deaths on Oregon roads during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
"Each fatal crash during last year's holiday period happened when most people were safely tucked in their beds," said Captain Gregg. "Nighttime safety on our highways decreases for many reasons including reduced visibility, more tired and impaired drivers, and colder weather that may make roads slicker."
Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday period, OSP troopers arrested 61 DUII drivers, issued nearly 1,300 speed-related citations, responded to about 200 traffic crashes, and helped over 400 disabled motorists. OSP troopers did not investigate any fatal crashes on state freeways or secondary state highways.
While Oregon continues to be in the top three states nationally for safety restraint usage rates, too many children and adults still do not regularly buckle up said ODOT's Occupant Protection Program Manager, Carla Levinski, who stressed these important reminders:
  • Child passengers must be restrained in approved child safety seats until they weigh forty pounds. Infants must ride in rear-facing seats until they reach both one year of age AND twenty pounds.
  • Children over forty pounds must use boosters to 4'9" tall unless they have reached age eight.
  • Even if your holiday dinner has made your safety belt less comfortable, please do not take it off until you are safely at your destination and ready to exit your vehicle.
Additional information regarding Oregon's occupant protection laws is available on ODOT's web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/safetybelts.shtml
ODOT and OSP continue to stress the importance to prepare before you go, paying close attention to your travel routes while keeping up on unexpected weather and road conditions. Safety tips to follow during this holiday period include:
Getting Ready for the Trip

  • Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination.
  • Stay informed through the media regarding weather conditions, potential traffic hazards and highway closures.
  • Check road conditions by visiting www.TripCheck.com or calling 5-1-1
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving starting with good tires, a good battery and full tank of gas, especially if heading over mountain passes.
  • Carry an emergency kit and chains or traction tires, especially if traveling over mountain passes.
  • Snacks and bottled water also are a good idea for long trips, especially with children.
  • Carry a map in case weather or road conditions force you to take a detour. Keep family members or friends aware of any significant changes in your planned route before you take the unplanned route.
  • Get plenty of rest before you leave on long trips.
  • Clear snow, ice or frost from windows and headlights before you leave.
  • Make sure everyone is using safety restraints and secure any cargo.
  • Always have a designated driver for any holiday activities that include alcohol.
On the Road:

  • Drive according to conditions. If it's wet, icy, snowy or foggy, slow down and increase your following distance behind other vehicles to at least a four-second distance. Keep in mind that conditions may not be perfect to drive at the posted speed.
  • Use headlights even in daylight to help other drivers see you.
  • Don't use cruise control in wet, icy, snowy or foggy conditions.
  • Be patient with all the other traffic on the highways.
  • Watch out for pedestrians now that the days are shorter and darker, and remember they're often in dark clothing.
  • If you get tired or drowsy, stop and rest during your trip or get a rested and sober licensed driver behind the wheel.
  • There are still many construction zones on our highways, and even though work will be inactive over the holiday weekend there may be equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway. Stay alert and slow down because all work zone speed limits still apply and fines increase in these areas.
  • Don't drink and drive or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking. Report any possible intoxicated driver or dangerous driver to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.