Fatal Traffic Crashes On The Rise In Oregon – Click It or Ticket Patrols

From now through September 4th, the Oregon State Police along with multiple other Law Enforcement agencies will be running focused educational patrols targeting safety belts and child safety seat laws.

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Seat belts save lives every day. They can only save lives, however, if they’re used, and there are still many people in America who don’t buckle up. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45%.

This is why your community needs to know that wearing a seat belt can make the difference between life and death.

• ODOT crash data for 2020 shows lack of safety belt or child restraint use was a factor in 32% or 100 of a total 311 motor vehicle occupant fatalities.

• Motor vehicle crashes are the leading nationwide cause of death for children ages one through twelve years old. In 2020, 1,019 children under twelve were injured in Oregon traffic crashes, 10 percent were reported not using a child restraint system. It is estimated that car seats may increase crash survival by 71% for infants under one year old and by up to 59% for toddlers aged one to four. Booster seats may reduce the chance of nonfatal injury among four to eight year olds by 45% compared to safety belts used alone.

• Of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants killed in the United States in 2020, 51% were not wearing seat belts.

• In 2017 safety belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives nationally. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent in an SUV, van or pickup and by 45 percent in a car. (IIHS)

• In 2017 an Oregon law was passed requiring children to ride in a rear-facing safety seat until they are at least two years old. A childover age two must continue to ride in a car seat with harness or in a booster until they reach age eight or 4’ 9” in height and the adult belt fits them correctly.

• The 2017 law, which extends the rear-facing requirement from the previous age one to age two, will better protect the child’s head, neck, and spine from potential crash injuries. This is because a rear-facing seat spreads crash forces evenly across the seat and child’s body while also limiting forward or sideways motion of the head.

• For help selecting or installing child car seats, consult the seat manufacturer’s instructions, your vehicle owner’s manual, or visit a local child seat fitting station listed at:
https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#inspection-inspection or at
http://oregonimpact.org/Child_Passenger_Safety.

• Many car seat fitting stations will host special events during National Child Passenger Safety Week September 18 through 24, with Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on-hand to assist families with selection and use of car seats and boosters.

Fatal Traffic Crashes On The Rise In Oregon

Fatal traffic crashes in Oregon have increased significantly according to Oregon State Police (OSP).

“We have seen an alarming trend in fatal crashes across Oregon,” OSP Lt. Steve Mitchell says.

Three people died following a traffic crash Aug. 15 along Highway 101 at Gleneden Beach in Lincoln County. On the same day, another fatal crash occurred along Interstate Five near Woodburn in the Willamette Valley. That crash claimed one life.

Mitchell said his agency has seen an increase in fatal traffic crashes over the past two years.

OSP documents show the number of fatal crashes:

  • 2019 = 195
  • 2020 = 200
  • 2021 = 234

Over the years, law enforcement reports have listed the cause of many of the fatal crashes as one vehicle crossing over the center-line of the roadway.

The News Guard asked Mitchell what OSP reconstruction of the deadly crashes reveals as the cause of the crashes. Is it driver fatigue, medical issue, attention failure, texting, eating?

“There is no easy way to narrow down specific reasons for distracted driving,” Mitchell said. “All the things you mention in the question are causes of Lane Usage crashes”

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a web site for crash reports and statistics. View the site at https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Data/Pages/Crash.aspx.

Mitchell said there are specific areas of the state where OSP is seeing an uptick in fatal crashes. Below are the highways OSP has seen the most fatal crashes during the same time-frame (2019 – 2021):

  • I-5 and Hwy 99 in Jackson County
  • Hwy 199 in Josephine County
  • I-5 and Hwy 99 in Marion County
  • Hwy 211 and Hwy 224 in Clackamas County
  • Hwy 97 in Deschutes County
  • Hwy 97 in Klamath County
  • Hwy 58 in Lane County
  • 1-5 in Douglas County

“There are numerous variables that can cause crashes in particular geographical locations,” Micthell said. “It could be increased traffic volume, a long weather event and motorists committing traffic violations that lead to crashes in a particular area.”

Mitchell said the largest contributor to fatal traffic crashes is speed and lane safety, driving on the wrong side of the road.

State troopers and partner public safety agencies focus on what is called the Fatal 5 driving behaviors, which Mitchell said contribute to most of all motor vehicle crashes.

The Fatal 5 are:

  • Speed
  • Occupant safety
  • Lane safety
  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving

“Our patrol division troopers focus on the Fatal 5 violations to reduce crash and fatal crash rates,” Mitchell said. “Though high visibility enforcement, OSP attempts to reduce the crashes related to Fatal 5 violations.”

The following is a link to an interactive that shows OSP{ patrol activities around the state: https://www.oregon.gov/osp/Pages/patrolmap.aspx

Mitchell said OSP makes the following recommendations

Speed – Drive the speed limit and on occasion drive the speed with due regard to the conditions at the time. Which could be road and weather conditions that would warrant slower speeds for safety.

Occupant Safety – Wear your seatbelts. Wear them correctly. Make sure children are in proper child safety seats.

Lane Safety – Drive within your lane. Keep distractions at a minimum that could cause a person to leave their lane. If you are fatigued pull over and rest at a safe location so that you do not fall asleep and leave the travel lane.

Impaired Driving – Do not drive buzzed, whether from alcohol or other drugs that could cause any impairment. Call for a designated driver, taxi, ride share or other options.

Distracted Driving – Put that phone down. Stop doing anything that can cause you to look away from the road.

Buckle up #Oregon every time. #BuckleUp #ClickItOrTicket #SeatbeltSafety

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