Traffic-related deaths were slightly higher this year, and DUII arrests by Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers were definitely higher, according to preliminary information gathered related to the Christmas holiday period. OSP, ODOT and local police agencies are preparing for this weekend's New Year's holiday extended weekend.
Preliminary information from ODOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), between 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 22, and 11:59 p.m., Monday, December 25th, four people died in two separate fatal traffic crashes over the 78-hour holiday period. Three people died last year, and according to FARS statistics an average of four fatalities have occurred during the Christmas holiday period during the last ten years.
The following is a brief review of this year's two fatal crashes in Oregon during the holiday period:
? On Friday, December 22, at about 11:45 p.m., three people died in a Redmond-area traffic crash. Redmond Police Department is the lead investigating agency and an OSP crash reconstructionist is assisting with the investigation.
? On Monday, December 25th, shortly after midnight, one person died in a Salem-area single vehicle traffic crash. Marion County Sheriff's Office is the lead-investigating agency.
There were no reported fatal crashes on any Oregon freeways or state highways.
Preliminary information from the OSP Patrol Services Division shows OSP troopers arrested 59 people for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) during the holiday period. This was an increase of nearly 33 percent over last year when troopers arrested 44 people for DUII. The OSP Coos Bay office troopers arrested seven people for DUII, including six arrests on Saturday, December 23. OSP offices in Portland, Salem, Springfield and Bend each reported six DUII arrests.
According to ODOT, alcohol has been a factor in 41 percent of Oregon traffic deaths around the New Year's and Christmas holiday periods during the last ten years. Six people died in five separate traffic crashes during last year's 78-hour New Year's holiday period, and OSP troopers arrested 88 people for DUII.
With the increase of people traveling on our highways during this week and the upcoming New Year's holiday weekend, OSP and ODOT recommend the following travel safety tips to help get you safely to your destination:
? Expect the unexpected. Be informed and prepared when traveling on any of our highways.
? When traveling anywhere, plan ahead and take known routes if possible. Our weather has been changing quickly and sometimes without warning. For road conditions in Oregon, call 5-1-1 or (800) 977-ODOT (6368). Outside Oregon, dial (503) 588-2941. Visiting TripCheck.com on the Internet provides information on road and weather conditions, incidents and traffic delays, and links to numerous cameras on many mountain passes and major routes.
? Take the time to keep up current and future weather conditions in the area you are traveling. Especially if going to or through higher elevations and mountain passes, areas where your vehicle needs to have appropriate traction tires or devices.
? If considering a remote route that you have never traveled on, don't hesitate to contact available road and weather condition phone number or Internet resources, or contact police or highway department officials.
? Prepare an emergency kit to place in your car for longer trips and keep track of how much fuel is in your tank, especially if traveling unfamiliar routes or into remote locations.
? Let friends and family know what routes you plan to take when on a trip, keeping them updated and let them know if these plans change.
? Drive to the conditions. If it's icy or wet, increase your following distance and reduce your speed. Use your headlights to improve not only your visibility, but also so others can see your vehicle.
? In bad weather, don't use cruise control.
For those who may mix holiday celebrations with alcohol, OSP and ODOT recommend the following tips to help make your journey safer:
? Don't drink and drive, and don't ride with anyone who has had too much to drink.
? Volunteer to be a designated driver.
? If you see someone you know who has had too much to drink to drive, take his or her keys.
? If hosting a gathering, provide non-alcoholic beverages.
? Use public transit or local drive-home services provided by taxis and other companies.
? Always use safety restraints.
? Report any suspected impaired driving by calling 1-800-24DRUNK (800-243-7865) or 9-1-1.
For more information about the national effort to battle impaired driving, visit (www.StopImpairedDriving.Org)