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Families mark roadways with silhouette memorials

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - This silhouette at on Tualatin Valley Highway heading into Cornelius represents one of 33 traffic fatalities in the last 10 years on the Tualatin Valley Highway, considered one of the Portland areas high crash corridors due to careless driving and unsafe road conditions.The white human silhouettes tacked on telephone poles along Tualatin Valley Highway catch the eyes of motorists along the busy commuter route.

That’s the point — catching people’s attention.

Each of those silhouettes represents a man, woman or child who lost their life due to careless driving or unsafe road conditions.

On Sunday, Nov. 15, families and loved ones of those killed in traffic crashes placed more than 130 memorials for the sons, daughters, parents, sisters, brothers and friends who have died along busy, unsafe roads in the greater Portland area. Nov. 15 was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, a yearly commemoration on the third Sunday of November.

The four-foot-tall human silhouettes are marked with the date of the crash that killed each person.

The area’s “high crash corridors” make up only 3 percent of the road network but account for 51 percent of pedestrian and 36 percent of traffic fatalities, according to 2003-2012 crash data from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles.

Tualatin Valley Highway is considered one of those corridors, with 33 fatalities since 2004 — 27 of those along the 12-mile stretch between Southwest 185th Avenue and Forest Grove.

Families for Safe Streets and Vision Zero organized the placing of the memorials to remind all who pass to drive like they would want others to drive around their loved ones.

Oregon and Southwest Washington Families for Safe Streets founder Kristi Finney put up a memorial for her son, Dustin. “Before my son was killed by a drunk driver, I thought, ‘Accidents happen,’” Finney said.

“But what happened to Dustin was no accident ... I hope people will learn from our tragedies and change their risky driving so they don’t cause the kind of devastation our families have suffered.”

Members of Oregon and Southwest Washington Families for Safe Streets comprises victims of traffic violence and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by aggressive or reckless driving and dangerous conditions.

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has proved successful across Europe — and now it’s gaining momentum in major American cities.


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