Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 8th, 2011 at 11:38 am
Did you know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in Oregon for people under 35 years of age? Or that every year, traffic crashes in Oregon result in an estimated $2.58 billion in total economic loss — that's about $657 dollars per Oregon resident*.
The good news is that the number and rate of injuries and fatalities on Oregon roads have been on the downswing in recent years. However, as we've been reminded in the past week or so, there's a lot more work to do.
So far this year, 181 people have lost their lives while traveling on Oregon roads.
To set a framework of policies and plans to dramatically reduce the carnage on our roadways, ODOT is doing a major revamp of their Traffic Safety Action Plan. Last updated in 2004, the TSAP lays out a blueprint on how to create new policies, pass new laws, and how to spend about $48 million dollars in traffic safety funds that go through their Traffic Safety Division each year.
The process to update that plan began back in late 2009 with a series of public meetings across the state to educate the public and solicit feedback. Just last week, ODOT released their Final Public Draft of the new plan and announced that they will still accept comments until September 1st.
You can download a PDF of the latest draft here and email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I took a quick look at the plan this morning and it's rather impressive.
Here's the opening line of the Executive Summary (emphasis mine):
"The Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan envisions a future where Oregon’s transportation- related death and injury rate continues to decline- we envision a day when days, then weeks and months pass with not a single fatal or debilitating injury occurs. Someday, we see a level of zero annual fatalities and few injuries as the norm."
To back up that vision, ODOT seems to be zeroing in on the three major factors in all fatal crashes in Oregon: Alcohol/drug use (38.2%), lack of seat belts (44.6%), and speed (a factor in 41.6% of fatalities).
94 specific action items are listed in the plan, including 10 "Emphasis Area Actions."
"Implement engineering solutions for bicyclists and pedestrians" comes in at Action 3; and, among emphasis areas, "pedestrian/bicycle" is among the types of "intersection crashes" listed in the top Emphasis Area. Other notable actions include pushing for legislation that would make Oregon's BAC limit .04 percent (instead of .08), legislation that would mandate the inclusion of helmets and lights in the sale of new bicycles, beefing up the case for enforcement, and an effort to improve and expand driver education in Oregon.
If you haven't told ODOT how to spend their traffic safety funds, now is your last chance. For more on the state of traffic safety in Oregon, stay tuned for more coverage and read an interview I did with Traffic Safety Division Manager Troy Costales back in November.
—*Economic impact statistic comes from The National Safety Council. In their "Accident Facts, 2009 Edition" the publication lists $1,290,000 in total economic loss for each death, $68,100 for each nonfatal disabling injury, and $8,200 for each property damage crash.