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Traveling Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend - Make It Safe, Not Tragic
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438

Note to media: Questions regarding local OSP patrol efforts and ride-along requests should be directed to your local OSP office.
With the expectation of more Thanksgiving holiday travelers taking to the road, Oregon State Police (OSP) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) urge everyone to start preparing now to make our roads safer this weekend. To help save lives and prevent injuries on our roads, police officers throughout Oregon and around the country will be stepping up enforcement efforts as part of the "Click It or Ticket" national campaign.
"Seat belts have helped save more lives than any other single piece of automotive safety equipment," said Captain Michael Dingeman, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division. "This Thanksgiving, and every day and night of the year, buckling your seat belt and making sure others in your vehicle are correctly using safety restraints may help save a life."
The Thanksgiving holiday period covers 102 hours and is the longest holiday weekend period of the year. The 2011 Thanksgiving holiday period starts 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 23, and concludes at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, November 27.
Oregon law enforcement agencies are joining the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and deaths on Oregon roads. In addition to an increased enforcement effort, ODOT will display travel safety reminders - "Click It or Ticket" and "Drive Sober / Save Lives" - on ODOT's Permanent Variable Message Signs along several major highways throughout the holiday weekend.
Since 1970, more than 230 people have died on Oregon roads during this holiday period. During last year's Thanksgiving holiday period, three people died in 3 separate traffic crashes on Oregon roads. Each fatal crash occurred in eastern Oregon involving a single vehicle.
Icy roads were a factor in each of last year's Thanksgiving weekend fatal traffic crashes. Many drivers may face similar weather-related challenges this weekend leading OSP and ODOT to stress the importance of planning ahead, staying informed, buckling up, and driving alert and sober.
"Don't hit the highways without being prepared to do so safely," said Dingeman. "If you drive drunk, carelessly, recklessly, or unrestrained, the faces you could be seeing might belong to an emergency room physician or nurse instead of the faces of your family and friends."
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), night time is one of the more dangerous times on the road because seat belt use is traditionally lower. Of the 187 passenger vehicle deaths at night during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday period, over one-half (54%) did not have their seat belts fastened (where seat belt use was known); while 49 percent in day-time crashes were not wearing seat belts.
Carla Levinski, ODOT's Occupant Protection Program Manager, reminds adults that Oregon law requires seat belts to be used properly, meaning wearing both lap and shoulder belts as intended. Levinski also urged parents to know of the benefits of booster seat use over adult safety belts for young children.
"Proper seat belt and child safety seat use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes," said Levinski.
OSP, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and ODOT remind travelers to use TripCheck.com (or call 5-1-1) for the latest road conditions, paying close attention to your travel routes while keeping up on unexpected weather / road conditions, and to follow these important safety tips:
Getting Ready for the Trip
  • Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination.
  • Stay informed about weather conditions, potential traffic hazards and highway closures.
  • Check road conditions by visting 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 a full tank of gas.
  • 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 any trip.
  • 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 or dangerous driver to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.
More information, including links to information in Spanish, is available at:
Winter travel safety information and links to ODOT's TripCheck.com: