National campaign runs Aug. 19 – Sept. 7
Over the next two weeks, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Police, and law enforcement agencies around the state will join the nationwide effort to keep impaired drivers off the roads as the summer travel season winds down. The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign concludes after the Labor Day weekend; last year in Oregon, five people died over the holiday and one of those fatalities resulted from an alcohol-involved crash. The campaign uses funds from ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division to pay for overtime enforcement, with a goal of keeping those driving, riding or walking on the transportation system safe.
Preliminary numbers show an increase in fatalities
Like the rest of the country, Oregon is experiencing a spike in traffic fatalities with a 33 percent increase so far in 2015. Preliminary numbers show that as of August 14, 261 traffic deaths were reported statewide compared with 197 over the same period in 2014. Pedestrian fatalities have also increased: 47 so far this year compared to 25 last year. There are a variety of reasons for the increase, but preventing impaired drivers, riders and pedestrians from taking to the transportation system could help keep that number from growing.
Personal responsibility for safety is critical
Recent reports have noted that traffic counts are also up across the country, and Oregon is no different. August is also a busy time for vacation travel, with people out and about not only in cars but on motorcycles, on bicycles and on foot. No matter which mode, it is vital that people stay alert and focused on safety. ODOT’s safety message this summer has been focused on taking personal responsibility and getting ‘back to the basics’ to protect yourself and your loved ones.
ODOT and OSP, along with local and county law enforcement and safety advocates across the state, offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel:
- Know before you go. Visit TripCheck.com or call 511 for the latest in road conditions and incidents.
- Follow the rules of the road. Watch out for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists – and bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists should watch out for drivers who don’t ‘see’ you. Wear reflective clothing, signal your intentions, help make yourself be seen.
- Drive sober. Plan ahead so if you are drinking or become impaired, you will have plans in place for alternate transportation.
- Be watchful for emergency vehicles. If you can do so safely, MOVE OVER when you are approaching any type of emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle stopped on the roadside with emergency lights activated.
- Get rested before you are tested. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Be alert for work zones. In work zones, even when workers are not present, all speed limits still apply and fines double. Inactive work zones still have equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway so drivers need to slow down and be alert.
- Buckle up every trip, every time. Be sure to use child safety seats correctly.
- Turn off your mobile phone and focus on the task at hand. Whether you are walking, riding or driving, you should be alert and you should avoid distractions – they can be deadly.
Everyone is urged to play a role in keeping our roadways safe by immediately reporting aggressive, dangerous, and intoxicated drivers to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.