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Recent crashes highlight need for safe driving

Before you take to the local highways and freeways this travel season, just keep these things in mind:

• One man died and another man was injured in a two-motorcycle crash near Corbett on Friday, June 10.

• Under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a Utah man is behind bars in Jefferson County after causing four crashes between Portland and Warm Springs on June 12.

• And a Welches man remained listed in serious condition earlier this week at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, days after a June 8 vehicle rollover on Highway 26.

Sure, these wrecks could have happened at any time, any place. But there's no escaping the reality that as the rainy Northwest spring gives way to the carefree summer, there's always an uptick in highway travel - more traffic, faster speeds, less focus on safety and general mayhem.

Ultimately, better habits by drivers will have a direct influence on lowering the number of highway mishaps. Transportation officials say more than half of all accidents are a result of motorists driving too fast, tailgating another vehicle or not using sufficient care when changing lanes or turning from a highway. Excessive speed can be a killer.

Highway 26 carves its path from Gresham to Sandy and continues east over Mount Hood, making it a heavily traveled summer route for East County residents seeking an escape from the rat race. But bear this in mind: Highway 26 has earned its reputation as 'blood alley.'

Safety measures have been taken on Highway 26 - cable barriers, safety signage, reduced speeds, lane striping and increased police patrols - but there is no better deterrent to serious wrecks than drivers who are intentional about driving safely.

And if protecting your life and the lives of your passengers isn't enough motivation to take it easy, it's worth mentioning that schools have closed and children will be out and about, and they don't always pay close attention to traffic.

So, everybody join in on this summer's travel-safety theme song, brought to us by Simon and Garfunkel: 'Slow down, you move too fast ….'

OK, you get the idea.