Cracking down on impaired drivers is the main focus of Oregon law enforcement agencies during the Fourth of July holiday period, the deadliest major holiday of the year. The 78-hour intensified enforcement efforts start 6:00 p.m., Friday, July 2nd, and conclude 11:59 p.m., Monday, July 5th, as city, county and state police officers work to stop drivers before they become involved in an event not worth celebrating during an aggressive "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest" blitz.
"We all have our work cut out for us," said Oregon State Police (OSP) Superintendent Timothy McLain. "No matter your age, driving under the influence isn't worth the risk to yourself or others. Plan now and make sure everyone has a safe and sober ride wherever they may be going,"
According to ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), nearly 300 people have died on Oregon's roads during the Fourth of July holiday period since 1970. Half of these traffic fatalities were in alcohol-involved crashes. Two people died last year during the 54-hour holiday period, and 6 people died two years ago. FARS statistics provide a sobering reminder how deadly this major holiday can be when thirty years ago (1980) nineteen people were killed.
ODOT Director Matthew Garrett cited recent national statistics to underscore the importance of the enforcement crackdown. In 2008 during the 78-hour July 4th holiday period there were a total of 491 traffic-related fatalities. Out of that number, 43 percent involved a driver or motorcycle ride with a BAC of .08 or higher.
"You don't have to be ‘falling down drunk' to be a threat to yourself and others on our roads," said Garrett. "The safest approach is to remember if you have had anything to drink, don't drive."
OSP troopers are joining officers around the country participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), providing patrol presence and enforcement on Oregon roads focusing on violations that are factors in traffic crashes. Last year, OSP troopers arrested 76 DUII drivers during the 54-hour period, issued over 1,000 speed-related citations and helped nearly 500 disabled motorists.
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 ODOT is in the midst of the busiest highway construction season ever. 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.
* 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.
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.