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Use caution in Labor Day driving

Law enforcement agencies throughout Oregon are joining a nationwide effort to prevent traffic crashes by targeting impaired drivers during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign aims to keep those driving, riding or walking on or along roadways safe during the second deadliest major holiday period for travelers.

Oregon State Police will put all available personnel assigned on the road Friday, Aug. 29, to supplement local highway safety efforts. OSP Field Operations Major Travis Hampton said troopers will target crash-causing violations that could lead to fatal and serious injury collisions.

Hampton said, throughout the year, someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired driving crash somewhere in the U.S. every 51 minutes.

“Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one death nationally every 34 minutes,”

he said. “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.”

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 Aug. 25 to Sept. 7. Their goal is to keep people buckled up and children in the right size and type child safety seat.

OSP and other agencies use overtime grant funds to target 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, an 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, 45 percent were alcohol-impaired.

More than three-fourths of all drunken driving-related fatal crashes during the holiday weekend happened between 6 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 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.

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