With an anticipated increase in holiday travelers on the road, according to AAA, Oregon State Police and many law enforcement agencies in Oregon are continuing a nationwide effort to prevent traffic crashes while targeting impaired drivers during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.
The nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign targets impaired driving to prevent traffic crashes that impact lives and affect those traveling on our highways during the second-deadliest major holiday period for highway travelers in Oregon.
Kicking off the Labor Day holiday weekend, Friday, August 30th, travelers on Oregon highways should see an obvious increase in the number of OSP patrol vehicles, marked and unmarked. All available sworn personnel assigned to Field Operations scheduled to work that day have been asked to supplement local highway safety or natural resource enforcement efforts.
OSP Field Operations Major Travis Hampton said the added patrol support will focus during the afternoon hours as many people leave for their holiday weekend destinations. Last year during the 2012 Labor Holiday reporting period, three people died in three separate traffic crashes on Oregon roads.
"Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent," said Hampton. "We hope the message to drive safe, alert, rested, and sober, backed by increased enforcement efforts, will be remembered and remain with drivers throughout the holiday period."
The 2013 Labor Day Holiday period starts 6:00 p.m., Friday, August 30, and runs through 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 2. Oregon troopers, deputies and city police officers will continue to target aggressive, dangerous, distracted, impaired and other drivers affecting safety on our roads as the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, which started August 16, concludes at the end of the holiday period.
OSP, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Eugene Police Department (EPD), Springfield Police Department, and Lebanon Police Department kicked off the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign August 16 with a multi-agency enforcement effort during the Willamette County Music Festival, August 16 - 18.
Enforcement effort statistics reported 260 traffic stops, 14 DUII arrests, approximately 75 traffic citations issued, and several arrests, including a 36-year old man who attempted to elude officers until he was arrested following a short foot chase in the Sweet Home area.
The man was wanted on two outstanding warrants related to a Rape in the First Degree charge. Officers working during the festival reported only two minor traffic crashes, one of which was alcohol-related, and extended their appreciation to those citizens who reported possible intoxicated drivers.
In addition to the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, participating Oregon law enforcement agencies will be in the midst of another "Click It or Ticket" campaign (August 28 - September 8) to keep people buckled up and children in the right size and type child safety seat.
OSP and other law enforcement agencies will use overtime grant funds to increase enforcement efforts targeting impaired drivers, unbuckled adults and children, and to get drivers to obey speed laws on Interstate and secondary state highways.
According to ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a brief look at Labor Day holiday traffic crash statistics in Oregon since 1970 indicates:
* Fatalities average seven each year in Oregon over this holiday weekend.
* Since record-keeping began, more than 280 people have died during this holiday period, making it the second deadliest major holiday of the year.
* Alcohol is a contributing factor in over half of the traffic fatal crashes.
* The highest number of traffic fatalities occurred in 1978 when 17 people died.
* Oregon has never experienced a fatal-free Labor Day holiday weekend. Single fatality reporting periods occurred in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2010.
Drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers and they are often those most at risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), among 18- to 34-year old drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were alcohol-impaired.
"We want to remind everyone that getting behind the wheel drunk is a terrible idea. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not put the keys in the ignition, steering wheel in your hands, and your vehicle into gear. If you choose to drive impaired, you will be arrested," said Hampton.
The Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and Oregon Department of Transportation offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel:
* Be watchful for emergency vehicles and workers. MOVE OVER if you are approaching any type of emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle which is 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.
* Stay up to date on road conditions by visiting TripCheck.com or calling 5-1-1. Outside Oregon, dial (503) 588-2941. 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.
* Share the road. Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians, especially at night. Bicyclists and pedestrians need to make sure motorists can see them, and motorists needs to make sure they are seen.
* Buckle up every trip, every time. Be sure to use child safety seats correctly.
* Be alert and avoid distractions.
* Drive sober.
Everyone is urged to play an important part in keeping our highways and city streets 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.
For help with child seats or additional "best practice" information, refer to the seat manufacturer's instructions, vehicle owner's manual or call ACTS Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center at (503) 643-5620 in Portland or (877) 793-2608.