SALEM, Ore. - Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies across Oregon are continuing a nationwide effort to prevent traffic crashes by targeting impaired drivers during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.
The nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign aims to keep those driving, riding or walking on or along our roadways safe, officials said Monday.
Again this Labor Day holiday weekend -- the second-deadliest major holiday period for highway travelers in Oregon -- OSP will put all available sworn personnel assigned to field operations on the road Friday, to supplement local highway safety efforts.
OSP Field Operations Major Travis Hampton said troopers will target crash-causing violations, many of which have a nexus to fatal and serious injury collisions.
Last year during the 2013 Labor Day holiday 78-hour reporting period, two people died in traffic crashes on Oregon roads and OSP troopers made 54 DUII arrests. This year's reporting period starts 6:00 p.m., Friday, August 29, and concludes Monday, 11:59 p.m., September 1.
To put it in perspective, Hampton pointed out that throughout the year, someone is killed on a road in the United States in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash every 51 minutes.
"Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one death nationally every 34 minutes," said Hampton. "We hope the message to drive safe, alert, rested, and sober, backed by increased enforcement efforts, will be remembered and all drivers will drive safely to save lives."
Since August 15, Oregon troopers, deputies and city police officers have been targeting aggressive, dangerous, distracted, impaired and other drivers affecting safety on our roads. This "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign concludes at the end of the holiday period.
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 25 - September 7) to keep people buckled up and children in the right size and type child safety seat.
OSP and other law enforcement agencies use overtime grant funds to increase enforcement efforts targeting impaired drivers and 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 during nighttime and among young drivers, and age group that is often most at risk.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration among 18- to 34-year old drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes during the 2012 Labor Day weekend, almost half (45%) were alcohol-impaired.
More than three-fourths of all drunken driving-related fatal crashes during the holiday weekend happened between 6:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. each day.
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.
* Watch out for motorcyclists, especially if the weather is nice.
* Buckle up every trip, every time. Be sure to use child safety seats correctly.
* Avoid distractions; don't use a mobile device while driving.
* Drive sober or let someone who is sober drive.
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.