Historically Labor Day weekend is second only to New Years when it comes to driving danger on Oregon’s roads. So it is good that both the Oregon State Police and a number of local departments are going out of their way to remind Oregonians and visitors to drive safely this holiday weekend, and are stepping up patrols designed to intercept Oregon drunk drivers. A news release from the OSP notes that the agency “will put all available sworn personnel assigned to field operations on the road” for a period that began Friday night and will continue through Monday night/Tuesday morning.
We have all, perhaps, become a bit too accustomed to warnings like this. Whenever holiday weekends roll around TV and newspaper stories appear, public service announcements are aired and blogs like this are posted.
So it is useful that the State Police have put the issue into stark perspective for those who might think that holiday drinking-and-driving is overhyped. An OSP news release (see link below) notes that “throughout the year, someone is killed on a road in the United States in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash every 51 minutes. Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one death nationally every 34 minutes.”
The release goes on to note that Oregon suffered only two DUII-related deaths over last year’s Labor Day weekend period (defined as 6pm on Friday to Midnight Monday night/Tuesday morning), but that during that same period “OSP troopers made 54 DUII arrests.”
As a Portland drunk driving victims’ lawyer I hope everyone reading this blog will take these numbers to heart. As the OSP note, “drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll during nighttime and among young drivers, the age group that is most often at risk.” Indeed, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures cited by the OSP, 18-to-34 year old drivers accounted for nearly half of all drunk driving crashes nationwide during the 2012 Labor Day holiday weekend (the most recent year for which data is available). Let’s all work to lower those numbers this weekend, even as we all take time off to mark the end of Summer 2014.