'Lights On for safety' Friday before holidays
This holiday season, the Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association and Oregon Association Chiefs of Police urge everyone to support their enforcement efforts and show zero tolerance for drunk and drugged driving.
Throughout December, law enforcement agencies around the country are stepping up enforcement efforts during a time when the excitement and celebrations of the holiday season can lead to terrible decisions and serious legal consequences.
Those decisions can impact lives of innocent people on the road, so on Friday, December 20, please remember those affected by an impaired driver whenever you see headlights on vehicles during daytime hours.
Every year since 1991 on the weekend preceding Christmas, the International Association of Chiefs of Police have organized "National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend," an effort to heighten public awareness and increase the apprehension of drunk and drugged drivers. Motorists are asked to turn on their headlights Friday for "National Lights on for Life" day, in remembrance of those who have been affected by an impaired driver.
To help save lives on our roads this holiday season, OSP and local law enforcement partners have been involved in a special "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown to stop impaired drivers beginning December 13, 2013, through January 1, 2014. Starting 12:01 a.m., Friday, December 20, through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 22, police officers nationwide and in Oregon will be stepping up these enforcement efforts for "National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend."
"Drunk driving is a killer on the roads all year round," said OSP Superintendent Richard Evans. "Sadly, the holiday season is particularly a dangerous time because more impaired drivers are behind the wheel of a vehicle. We ask everyone to take a stand now, plan ahead, and don't be the cause of a traffic crash that claims someone's life, or your own."
Because the Christmas holiday is on Wednesday, the official reporting period is 30 hours, starting 6:00 p.m., December 24, through 11:59 p.m., December 25. Last year in Oregon during a 102-hour Christmas holiday reporting period, three people died in 3 separate fatal traffic crashes on Oregon roads and OSP troopers reported 53 DUII arrests.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 32,000 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes across the nation in 2011, and 31 percent of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes. Last year in Oregon, 37 percent of crashes in which someone died involved an impaired driver.
OSP, OSSA, OACP and ODOT offer these simple but 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.
Another way to show zero tolerance for impaired driving is to report impaired drivers by calling 9-1-1 or OSP at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865).
OSP and ODOT also urge travelers to "Know Before You Go", monitoring media reports for weather forecasts and keeping up-to-date on road conditions at www.TripCheck.com. In addition to road and weather conditions, winter driving safety information and tips are also there to help keep you informed and safe on our roads during holiday and winter season travels.
More information regarding impaired driving and nationwide enforcement crackdown efforts is available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website at: