Travelers urged to be cautious during holiday

Written by Kelly Ducote, The Observer August 30, 2013 10:29 am

The Oregon State Police will have an increased presence during the Labor Day weekend, which is the second deadliest major holiday period for travelers.  (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
The Oregon State Police will have an increased presence during the Labor Day weekend, which is the second deadliest major holiday period for travelers. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)

As one of the last big barbecue weekends of the summer approaches, law enforcement agencies urge Oregonians to use caution when traveling for Labor Day weekend.

AAA Idaho/Oregon, the Oregon State Police and other law enforcement agencies will continue the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign that targets impaired driving to prevent crashes. Labor Day weekend is the second deadliest major holiday period for travelers in Oregon, according to OSP. 

Beginning Friday, travelers will notice an increase in OSP patrol vehicles, both marked and unmarked. All available sworn OSP personnel assigned to field operations Friday have been asked to supplement local highway safety or natural resource enforcement efforts.

OSP Field Operations Major Travis Hampton said added patrols will focus during afternoon hours as many people leave for their holiday destinations. Three people died in three separate crashes during the 2012 Labor Day holiday period.

“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober of Get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent,” Hampton said. “We hope the message to drive safe, alert, rested and sober, backed by increased enforcement efforts, will be remembered and remain with drivers throughout the holiday period.”

In addition to the “Drive Sober” campaign, participating law enforcement agencies are also involved with the “Click It or Ticket” campaign until Sept. 8 to keep people buckled up and children secure in the correct child safety seats. The state police and other agencies will use overtime grant funds to increase enforcement efforts targeting impaired drivers, unbuckled adults and children, and to get drivers to obey speed laws.

Data from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Report System shows that, on average, seven people die each year in Oregon over the Labor Day holiday. Since record-keeping began in 1970, more than 280 people have died during the period, and alcohol is a contributing factor in more than half of the fatal crashes. 

“We want to remind everyone that getting behind the wheel drunk is a terrible idea. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not put the keys in the ignition, steering wheel in your hands and your vehicle into gear,” Hampton said. “If you choose to drive impaired, you will be arrested.”