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Region Transportation Safety Newsletter, July 2013
Be Prepared Before Heading Out on Summer Road Trips


As the busy summer driving season begins, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges motorists to take simple, yet necessary, precautions to ensure vehicles are in optimal driving condition and appropriately equipped prior to taking to the road. Additionally, NHTSA advises drivers to avoid risky behaviors that could potentially place road users inside and outside of the vehicle in danger. NHTSA offers tips on vehicle maintenance including tires, belts and hoses, fluids levels, lights—particularly when towing, and what to carry in an emergency roadside kit. Tips on avoiding distractions and making sure all passengers are properly secured are also included. More
Hands-Free Texting Still Distracting for Drivers


A new AAA study has found that using voice commands to send text messages and emails form behind the wheel is actually more distracting and dangerous than simply talking on a cellphone. More


Four Distracted Driving Myths 
How often have you heard someone claim that using a hands-free device renders behind-the-wheel cell phone conversations perfectly safe? Well, the National Safety Council (NSC) has news for those drivers: Using a cell phone while driving, even when both hands are planted firmly on the wheel, is dangerous behavior – and to believe otherwise is to buy into one of the biggest distracted driving myths out there. The reality, according to the infographic "The Great Multitasking Lie," is that drivers using handheld or hands-free cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a car crash. NSC also estimates that drivers using cell phones are involved in 21% of all crashes in the United States. More
Source: EHS Today, May 24, 2013
Summer Takes Toll on Teen Drivers
The deadly days have arrived for teenage drivers, along with new data about what makes the warm-weather months so dangerous. While the overwhelming majority of crashes involving teen drivers are the operators' fault, 40% of those interviewed for an insurance industry report said they had no control over whether they got into an accident. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, and preliminary indications are that after declining for several years, they increased in the first half of 2012. Federal data show that the average number of teenagers who die in crashes doubles during the three months that begin when school lets out for the summer. Seven of the 10 deadliest days for teen drivers are clustered in those months, and some of the dates from 2011 are likely party weekends: the last Saturday in June, two days of the July 4 weekend and a Sunday late in August just before universities launch their fall terms. More
Source: The Washington Post, June 11, 2013
Cable Median Barrier Program in Washington State
The Washington State Department of Transportation has released a report that summarizes its cable median barrier program—a program that has shown effectiveness in reducing collisions by targeting cross-median crashes on high-speed controlled access highways. View the full report.
Photo Radar in Work Zones Bill Passes
House Bill 2265 passed and was signed by the Governor on June 15. Highlights of the bill:
  • Lifts the sunset on photo radar, making this permanent authority.
  • Allows use of photo radar speed enforcement on interstates (formerly prohibited).
  • Continues to allow use of photo radar when workers are present.
  • Allows use of photo radar when workers are NOT present if the roadway is temporarily changed (such as number of usable lanes, lane or shoulder width, curvature of the roadway, etc.) Since most people injured in work zone crashes are vehicle occupants and not highway workers, this will be an important safety component to the bill.
  • Where photo radar is used, the enforcement unit may be no more than 100 yards from the location of the workers or the temporary change in the roadway.
  • Jurisdictions where photo radar is authorized: Albany, Beaverton, Bend, Eugene, Gladstone, Medford, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Portland, and Tigard (only cities listed under ORS 810.438 can use photo radar). Photo radar is currently being used in Portland, Beaverton, Medford and Milwaukie. 
  • All other requirements remain in the law:
    • signs announcing photo radar must be posted,
    • a uniformed officer must be on site,
    • a marked police vehicle must be on site, and
    • the actual vehicle speed must be displayed within 150 feet of the photo radar unit.
    • House Bill 2265
      New Work Zone Safety PSA
      ODOT has a new work zone safety PSA titled "Life in the Work Zone."
      Check it out: 
      National Impaired Driving, July 4 Safety
      July 4th celebrations often include cook-outs, picnics, boating, time spent with family and friends and, of course, fireworks. But for too many families, this holiday weekend can be filled with tragedy instead of celebration. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to alcohol-impaired driving crashes on our roadways. Remember, Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, so whether you’ve had way too many, or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk to yourself or others to get behind the wheel.
      Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive. Too often, people who drink think they are okay to get behind the wheel because they only feel a “buzz.” The truth is you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be a menace to everyone around you on the highways. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Please plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the party begins.




        Safe Routes to School Grants
        Applications are due July 15 for 2014 non-infrastructure projects. Every application must be submitted with a completed Oregon SRTS Action Plan. This is for education, encouragement, and enforcement projects with the goal of increasing walking and biking safely to and from K-8 schools.
        Summer is a great time to sign your teen up for driver education