Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oregon State Police cracking down during Holidays

Law enforcement leaders in Oregon announced today they will be joining with thousands of other law enforcement and highway agencies across the nation during the upcoming national crackdown on impaired driving,December 16 to January 3, 2010.

Drunk driving is one of America's deadliest crimes. In 2008, 11,773 peopledied in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with ablood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. The picture for womenis particularly concerning. Twenty-one percent of the 5,473 female driverskilled in crashes in 2008 had BAC levels of .08 or higher.

In the past decade in Oregon, more than 2,000 individuals were killed andover 26,000 people were injured by drinking and drugged drivers."By working together toward a common goal of reducing the incidents ofdrinking and drugged driving, we will enjoy a safer roadway system,"Governor Ted Kulongoski wrote in proclaiming December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness month.

"Our message is simple so there should be no excuses or exceptions: if you drive impaired you will be arrested," said Oregon State Police (OSP)Superintendent Timothy McLain."Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." is the name of the national crackdown on impaired driving. It is a deterrence program organized bythe U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration (NHTSA) that focuses on combining high-visibilityenforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising andpublicity.

"Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state. Yet wecontinue to see far too many people suffer debilitating injuries and lossof their loved ones as a result of someone else's poor decision to drivewhile impaired. This careless disregard for human life must stop," saidTillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson, President of the Oregon StateSheriff's Association (OSSA)."Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash oran arrest for impaired driving can be significant," said City of TheDalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury, who is also President of the OregonAssociation of Chiefs of Police (OACP). "Violators often face jail time,the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, attorney fees,time away from work, and dozens of other expenses. So don't take thechance.

Remember, if you are over the limit, you are under arrest."Three important enforcement periods fall within the 19 day crackdownperiod:* "National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend" (12:01 a.m., Friday, December 18th,through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 20th). a public awareness effortconducted since 1991 the weekend preceding Christmas.* Christmas Holiday period (6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 23rd, through11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 27th). During last years 102-hour Christmasholiday period, six people were killed in 6 separate Oregon traffic crashes. According to ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)statistics, during the last ten years over this holiday period an averageof 4 traffic deaths have occurred. OSP troopers arrested 50 DUII driversover the 2008 holiday period.

* New Year's Holiday period (6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 30th, through11:59 p.m., Sunday, January 3rd, 2010). During last year's 102-hour NewYear's holiday period, seven people were killed in 5 separate Oregontraffic crashes. According to FARS statistics, during the last ten yearsover this holiday period an average of more than 5 traffic deaths haveoccurred. OSP troopers reported more than 50 DUII arrests over last year'sNew Year's holiday period.OSP, OSSA, OACP and ODOT urge holiday travelers to remember these tips:

* Don't drink and drive ("Buzzed driving is drunk driving"), and don'tride with anyone who has had too much to drink
.* Never use illegal drugs.* Volunteer to be a designated driver.
* If someone who's been drinking insists on driving, take his/her keys.
* If hosting a gathering, provide non-alcoholic beverages.
* Use public transit or local drive-home services provided by taxis andother companies.* Always use safety restraints.
* Avoid travel after midnight, especially on weekends or holidays.
* Drive defensively at all times.
* Report any suspected impaired driving by calling 1-800-24DRUNK(800-243-7865) or 9-1-

1.While traveling this holiday season, and every day of the year, look foremergency responders working along our roads. Remember Oregon's "MoveOver Law" has an important change effective January 1, 2010 that addsroadside assistance vehicles and tow vehicles to the list requiringmotorists to "maintain a safe distance". Motorists will be required to:

* Make a lane change to a lane not adjacent to that of an emergency vehicle, roadside assistance vehicle, tow vehicle or ambulance; or
* Reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a speed that is at least 5miles per hour under the posted speed limit, if making a lane change is unsafe.

In addition to travel challenges faced with impaired drivers on our roads,travelers will also need to pay attention for unexpected changes withwinter-related road conditions. The "Oregon Winter Driving Guide",developed by the Governor's Transportation/Tourism Task Force, is ahelpful resource for motorists with information on Oregon's laws thatgovern use of tire chains, tips for driving in icy or snowy conditions,and a checklist of equipment for roadside emergencies.

The free guide is available at visitor information centers and conventionbureaus, welcome centers and information kiosks, Les Schwab Tire Centers,Department of Transportation offices, and from members of the OregonLodging Association. The guide is also available online at tripcheck.com,traveloregon.com, oregontic.com, and oregonlodging.com. A link is also available on the Oregon State Police web site.

For more information, visit www.Stopimpaireddriving.org.

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