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May-21-2009 07:58printcomments

Oregon State Police Remind Drivers to Stay Safe Over Memorial Holiday

Police say the main focus will be toward intoxicated, fatigued, reckless, and aggressive drivers, because they continue to endanger many people on our highways.

Oregon State Police
Photos: Oregon State Police

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Law enforcement agencies face a challenging task each day trying to keep serious injury and fatal traffic crashes from happening. This is especially challenging during the Memorial Day holiday period during which Oregon historically has the highest percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities of all the major holidays during the year. As part of the daily work to prevent traffic crashes, Oregon State Police will again join law enforcement agencies around the country and in Oregon increasing enforcement efforts for Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) starting Friday, May 22nd, through Monday, May 25th. The enforcement aimed at reducing traffic crashes from occurring coincides again with current stepped up safety restraint and child safety seat enforcement during the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign, May 18 - 31. Two people died in Oregon traffic crashes during the 2008 Memorial Day holiday period, May 23 - 26. Last year's fatality statistics matched the lowest fatality count during this holiday since 1970 when two deaths were recorded in 2001 and 1993. Captain Gerry Gregg, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division, emphasized the reality is that summertime major holiday periods are the deadliest as reflected in ODOT statistics. "We can't hide from the fact that even though last year's number was so low, ten people did die in Oregon traffic crashes over this holiday two years ago. This was the highest number since 1982 when eleven people died," said Gregg.

Several OSP offices throughout the state have identified time periods to increase enforcement efforts on selected highways based upon crash and driver problems over this holiday. When possible, OSP will put out extra patrols on the road along with county deputies and city officers using ODOT-provided overtime grant funds targeting highway traffic safety problems. "Our main focus will be toward intoxicated, fatigued, reckless, and aggressive drivers because they continue to endanger many people on our highways. Travelers should see a noticeable, consistent enforcement presence now that we have more troopers hired and trained that are out on our highways," said Gregg. Targeted enforcement using overtime grant funding will also help put more troopers, deputies and city officers on area roads to monitor safety belt use during the "Click It or Ticket" campaign. According to ODOT, Oregon still experiences tragedy every year due to lack of belt use despite the fact our state has one of the highest usage rates at 96 percent. To help spread the safety restraint use reminder; ODOT variable message boards around the state have been periodically displaying the "Click It or Ticket" message during the national campaign dates. More information about the "Click It or Ticket" campaign can be found on ODOT's website at oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/safetybelts.shtml. Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel: * Get plenty of rest before starting out. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination. * Be aware that many ODOT vehicles and road construction projects are on our highways. The scope of work zones is projected to continue to increase through implementation of the Oregon Transportation Improvement Act, the biggest overhaul and modernization of Oregon highways and bridges in decades. Stay up to date on road conditions by visiting TripCheck.com or calling 5-1-1. * Even when workers are not present, all work zone 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. * Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly. * Don't drink and drive. Everyone plays an important part in keeping our highways and city streets safe. Immediately report aggressive, dangerous, and intoxicated drivers to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1. Source: Oregon State Police

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