Following last year's deadly New Year's holiday period during which 12 people died, including nine in the tragic Dec. 30 tour bus crash east of Pendleton, Oregon law enforcement agencies are urging travelers to be prepared for varied road conditions -- and don't ignore the dangers of impaired, fatigued, distracted, and other hazardous drivers on our roads.
"We definitely are concerned after last year's deadly holiday period when so many people lost their lives on our roads," said OSP Major Travis Hampton. "Make the right decision to drive alert, rested and sober. Celebrate responsibly and start the New Year by keeping everyone's safety on our roads your highest priority."
According to Oregon Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System, last year's 12 fatalities equaled the highest number reported during only two other years (1998 and 1999) since 1970 for the New Year's holiday period.
This year's holiday reporting period is 30 hours (6:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 31, 2013, through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, January 1, 2014) because New Year's Day is on Wednesday.
Continuing stepped up enforcement efforts that are part of the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, in partnership with ODOT, offer these important safety tips:
* Have designated drivers. Plan to have sober drivers at your party who can help get folks home safely. Volunteer to be a sober driver at someone else's party.
* Plan to stay overnight. Make pre-arrangements to stay overnight at your friend's home or in a hotel room where you won't have to drive if you have been drinking.
* Monitor car keys. Collect your guests' car keys at the beginning of your event. Then, talk with your guests before they leave about the best transportation options for them.
* Be ready with a cab fare fund. Having available cash to pay cab fare for your guests if they need it reduces the stress on you. If you can't afford to pay for it yourself, ask your guests to pitch in a few bucks on your invitation. And keep phone numbers handy.
* Be responsible. 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.
* Walking or bicycling after dark? Wear bright clothes to help you stand out.
* Buckle up, every trip, every time.
* Drive defensively at all times.
* Show zero tolerance for impaired driving. Report impaired drivers by calling 9-1-1 or OSP at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865).
According to ODOT's FARS, prior to last year, an average of five traffic fatalities occurred in Oregon each year during the previous 10 years over New Year's holiday period. Eleven years ago (2003), when the last 30-hour reporting period took place, Oregon recorded the only fatal-free New Year's holiday period since 1970.
During the last three New Year's holiday periods, OSP troopers reported a total of 222 DUII arrests. Last year, nearly 40 percent of OSP's 78 reported DUII arrests occurred January 1st between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.