As we enter the New Year’s holiday period let me add my voice to the many out there reminding everyone to be safe and act responsibly tonight and tomorrow.
Throughout the country – perhaps even the world – New Year’s Eve and the days surrounding it have a reputation for being a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads. People overindulge and then get behind the wheel – sometimes consciously, more often simply without thinking clearly. The results are a danger not only to themselves and their passengers but also to everyone else on the road.
According to the Oregon State Police, during last year’s 102-hour ‘holiday reporting period’ (6pm on December 28 through midnight on January 1) “12 people died in four separate fatal traffic crashes on Oregon roads… The 12 fatalities, including 9 deaths in (a) December 30 bush crash, equals the highest number reported previously two different years – 1998 and 1999, during this holiday period since 1970 when ODOT began to gather these statistics.” The fatal bus crash on Deadman’s Pass in the east of the state led to a federal investigation and, as I noted at the time, raised significant Oregon wrongful death issues.
On a more positive note, it is worth mentioning that the holiday season is off to a good start in safety terms. During the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day traffic reporting period the state saw “no known confirmed traffic fatalities” according to a recent ODOT news release. “If the preliminary information holds true, this was the second fatal-free Christmas holiday period since 1970. The only other known fatal-free holiday period occurred… in 1996.” (ODOT issued no subsequent press release updating this one so we can presume that the preliminary data held up as last week developed.)
The end of the holiday season, and the prospect of everyone having to get back to work, always brings a tinge of sadness. But as a Portland wrongful death and car crash attorney I find it especially heartening to think that our state and city have, until now, made it through one of the most dangerous times of year to be on the road relatively accident free. Let us all hope that tonight and tomorrow Oregonians and visitors alike can continue to celebrate safely.
Oregon State Police: Preliminary Post-Christmas Holiday Reporting Period Statistics
Oregon State Police New Year’s 2012-2013 traffic crash summary