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Don't Let Impaired Drivers Wreck The Holidays
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
(503) 986-3438

Photograph links valid 30 days - Sources:
NHTSA - http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2010-12/1002/40596/Underatree.jpg
OSP - http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2010-12/1002/40596/LightsonforLife.JPG
Oregon law enforcement agencies are gearing up for three important statewide and national impaired driving crackdown periods during the last half of this month. Supported by Governor Ted Kulongoski's proclamation of December as "Drinking and Drugged Driving Awareness Month" safety advocates and law enforcement are working to increase awareness and enforcement efforts aimed to reduce crashes caused by impaired drivers.
"As party-goers celebrate the holidays with friends and family, everyone needs to heed the warning to keep the party off the road or be ready to face the consequences," said Oregon State Police (OSP) Superintendent Chris Brown.
OSP, Oregon State Sheriff's Association (OSSA), and Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP) point to three upcoming enforcement periods during which Oregon troopers, deputies and city police officers are putting the pressure on impaired drivers:
  • "National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend" (12:01 a.m., Friday, December 17, through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 19) – a public awareness effort conducted every year since 1991 during the weekend preceding Christmas. Organized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, agencies combine forces in a massive effort to apprehend drunk and drugged drivers, and other traffic violators, on problem roads when they know collisions are most likely to occur. To heighten public awareness of the tragedy caused by impaired drivers, police and drivers are asked to turn on their headlights for Friday's "National Lights on for Life" day in remembrance of those who have been impacted by an impaired driver.
  • Christmas Holiday period (6:00 p.m., Thursday, December 23, through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 26) – During last year's 102-hour Christmas holiday period, six people were killed in 6 separate Oregon traffic crashes. During the last ten years, ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) statistics shows an average of 4 people lose their lives in Oregon traffic crashes over the Christmas Holiday period.
  • New Year's Holiday period (6:00 p.m., Thursday, December 30, through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, January 2, 2011) – During last year's 102-hour New Year's Holiday period, Oregon noted no traffic fatalities; only the second time since 1970 that has happened during this holiday period. The previous year there were 7 fatalities. According to FARS statistics, an average of 5 people was killed in Oregon traffic crashes during the New Year's holiday period.
Nationally, during the month of December 2009, 753 people were killed in crashes that involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. During the past decade in Oregon, more than 2,000 people have been killed and over 26,000 injured by a drinking or drugged driver.
Recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows an increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured drivers over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009. About 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year in car crashes tested positive for drugs. ( NHTSA news release: http://www.nhtsa.gov/PR/NHTSA-16-10 )
"After hearing about the dangers of driving while impaired time after time, most people have gotten the message that if they're planning on drinking, they should always plan a safe way home," said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, OSSA President. "But sadly, many drivers still think they are invincible and regularly choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink."
"The holiday season should be a time of celebration, reflection and new beginnings, but unfortunately all too often it is a time of great loss and tragedy caused by impaired drivers on our roads," said Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts, OACP President. "Every visitor and / or resident in our state has a responsibility not to become an arrest or death statistic. Giving or taking of the keys is much easier than giving up personal freedom or a life."
ODOT officials, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, and Oregon Association Chiefs of Police offer these safety tips:
  • If you are planning to drink, plan ahead: designate a sober driver or arrange for a taxi to pick you up at a set time.
  • If you are hosting a party, offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and help your guests be responsible. Don't let someone who has been drinking get behind the wheel.
  • Volunteer to be a designated driver.
  • Walking or bicycling after dark? Wear bright clothes to help you stand out, and always look both ways before crossing, even at an intersection.
  • Buckle up, every trip, every time.
  • Drive defensively at all times.
In addition to travel challenges posed by impaired and other dangerous drivers, travelers need to pay attention for unexpected winter-related road condition changes. ODOT's travel and road conditions website, www.TripCheck.com, contains up-to-date incident information, weather reports, alerts and other valuable "know before you go" information.

Report impaired drivers by calling Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (800-243-7865) or dialing 9-1-1.
Media note: Ride-along requests should be directed to your local OSP office, county sheriff's department, or police agency.