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Motorists Beward: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
12/01/2008
Gretchen McKenzie
Oregon Department of Transportation
Office: (503) 986-4183
 
Shelley Snow
Oregon Department of Transportation
Office: (503) 986-3438

Governor proclaims December “Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness” month
 
Joining a national campaign to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities during the holiday season, Oregon is stepping up efforts to remind motorists, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” Governor Kulongoski has proclaimed December “Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness” month, and law enforcement around the state will be on the lookout for impaired drivers throughout the month.
 
“It’s important for people to realize that driving with a ‘buzz’ — from any combination of alcohol, legal or illegal drugs — is driving while impaired, and that’s a leading factor in traffic fatalities in Oregon,” said Gretchen McKenzie, Impaired Driving Program manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division. “People need to plan ahead for the holidays. If they are going to drink, decide who is going to drive before the first drink is consumed.”
 
In Oregon in 2007, 18 people died in alcohol-related crashes during the holiday season from Nov. 21 – Dec. 31. And a national study released last year showed the daily death toll from impaired driving crashes during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods is significantly more than for the rest of the year. The report, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that from 2001-2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America’s roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That number increased to 45 per day during the Christmas period and to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday.
 
Governor Kulongoski’s proclamation noted more than 2,000 individuals have been killed and more than 26,000 people injured by drinking and drugged drivers in Oregon this past decade.
 
“We’ve made substantial progress, through the efforts of thousands of volunteers and safety advocates, in reducing crashes due to impaired driving,” Kulongoski said, “But we must continue to work together to reduce incidents due to drinking and drugged driving, so our families can be together and our roads safer for everyone.”
 
McKenzie urges holiday travelers to remember these tips:
  • Don't drink and drive (“Buzzed driving is drunk driving”), and don't ride with anyone who has been drinking.
  • Never use illegal drugs.
  • Volunteer to be a designated driver.
  • If someone who’s been drinking insists on driving, take his/her keys.
  • If hosting a gathering, provide non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Use public transit or local drive-home services provided by taxis and other companies.
  • Always use a seat belt.
  • Avoid travel after midnight, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Drive defensively at all times.
  • Report drunk drivers by calling 1-800-24DRUNK or dialing 911.
 
For more travel safety tips, visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS.
 
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