The sad fact is Oregon traffic deaths are on the rise.
Preliminary figures from the ODOT Crash Analysis & Reporting Unit indicate 288 people died in traffic crashes through the end of August. That figure includes pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle crashes.
Traffic deaths are up more than 30 percent over the same period in 2014 and are on pace to exceed 400 traffic fatalities by the end of the year.
Traffic deaths had already increased 13 percent in 2014, following years of decline. Four decades of safety measures, new laws and improvements to vehicle design and emergency response are cited as key reasons why Oregon’s fatality rate has steadily declined from its peak in 1972 when 737 people were killed.
So far this year, media attention on this issue is largely focused on assigning blame for the increase in traffic fatalities. The media asks: Is it lower gas prices? Is it population growth? Is it cellphone use?
The answer isn’t that simple.
Crash reconstruction and police reports provide the best information available but impaired driving and distracted driving are under reported because, in many case, unless the driver admits to the behavior, the cause isn’t cited as a factor.
With just three months left before the end of the year, the question Rogue Valley residents need to ask is: What can I do to reduce my risk of a traffic crash and fatality?
That’s the question we posed to four veteran law enforcement officers working in the Rogue Valley: Oregon State Police Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Proulx, Grants Pass Police Chief Bill Landis, Central Point Police Chief Kris Allison and Medford Police Chief Tim George.
Collectively, these four have more than 90 years of law enforcement experience on Oregon roads. Their voices carry credence, drawn from years of first-hand experience responding to and preventing traffic crashes. They graciously shared some advice on pages 13 and 14 that can help you and your loved ones reduce the risk of being in a traffic crash.