Gresham Police and other law enforcement agencies statewide and nationally will increase patrols during Memorial Day weekend as part of a seat-belt and impaired-driving safety blitz.
Enhanced enforcement of unbuckled vehicle occupants, including child passengers, along with impaired and other dangerous drivers will start at 6 p.m. Friday, May 27, and extend through midnight Monday, May 30.
Six people died in six separate traffic crashes in Oregon during the 2010 Memorial Day holida, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Since 1970, nearly 260 people have died in Oregon traffic crashes during the Memorial Day holiday. Over the last 25 years, approximately 54 percent of these fatalities were the result of alcohol-involved crashes.
Gresham police traffic Sgt. Terry O'Keeffe urges everyone traveling this holiday weekend to buckle up and have a rested, alert and sober driver operating every vehicle.
'Speeding and driver impairment are factors most often leading to serious crashes, so do your part by driving safe and sober and properly using your safety restraints and child safety seats,' said O'Keeffe.
Carla Levinski, Oregon Department of Transportation's occupant protection program manager, noted that alcohol and lack of safety belt use can be a lethal mix.
Recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research suggests that most of Oregon's unbuckled fatalities occur on weekday afternoons and between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekends.
'Even though we rank third nationally in safety belt use, at 97 percent, we still have people ignoring the law, so Oregon police officers will be looking for these violators around the clock,' Levinski said.
Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation offer the following safety reminders for holiday travel:
• Get rested before you are tested. There are more fatigued drivers on the roads during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Be patient and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
• Pay attention. An inattentive driver is a growing safety concern on our roads and an increasing factor in traffic crashes.
• Know before you go: 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 are double. Inactive work zones still have equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway, so drivers need to slow down and be alert.
• Share the road. Don't tailgate and check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
• Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly (see childsafetyseat.org for free safety seat clinics and proper buckling tips)
• Don't drink and drive.
• Move over if you are approaching any type of emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle that is stopped on the roadside with emergency lights activated.
The National Safety Council estimates more than 400 people may die and around 39,000 others will be injured in traffic crashes during this holiday period. During the last six most recent Memorial Day holiday periods the average number of traffic fatalities was 12 percent higher than similar non-holiday weekends.
In addition, aggressive, dangerous and intoxicated drivers can be reported to the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications at 503 823-3333 or by calling 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.