Oregonians are responding to transportation safety messages, with the state’s motor vehicle fatality toll for 2010 preliminarily at 325. The number is 13 percent lower than 2009, in which 377 fatalities occurred, and the lowest since 1944, when the number was 245, the state Department of Transportation reported.
“Of course, this is good news overall,” said Troy E. Costales, Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division administrator. “It appears that education and enforcement are helping Oregonians realize they can make a difference in safety. Still, there were too many individuals who paid the price of their lives, and we all must continue to be diligent.”
Improvements in road design and traffic management techniques have contributed to fewer crashes and fatalities, as has the availability and skill of emergency responders, he said. But most important is the personal responsibility required by drivers, riders and walkers every time they travel.
Although 2010’s numbers won’t be finalized until later this year, DOT said other preliminary statistics show a positive trend:
- The number of “zero fatal” days (days when there are no fatal crashes) grew to 167 last year. The number of “zero fatal” days has been increasing the past few years.
- The number of motorcycle fatalities was the lowest since 2004, at 38. Also, it appears 19 percent of the motorcyclists in fatal crashes were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, one of the lowest percentages in many years.
- The number of bicyclist fatalities has remained low, at seven.
- Based on the number of vehicle miles traveled, estimates show a fatality rate of 0.96 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — the lowest in Oregon motorized history, surpassing the goals set in 1995 and 2004 by ODOT and the transportation safety community.
Yet DOT is concerned the numbers for pedestrian safety are not as positive, according to preliminary statistics.
- Pedestrian fatalities were higher than expected, at 62 (in 2009, 39 were killed).
- In the first six months of 2010, more than half of the pedestrians killed were under the influence (16 of 31 tested positive for alcohol/drugs), with seven above 0.11 BAC (blood alcohol content).
- In the first six months of 2010, almost two-thirds of the pedestrians killed were not at an intersection (marked or unmarked) and instead were reported as “in the roadway” (23 of 31).
If these numbers hold, Costales said, this will be the 12th straight year Oregon has fared better than the national overall crash fatality average, after 50 years of being worse than the national average.
“The 2010 story clearly shows that by buckling up, driving and walking sober, managing speed and training our teen drivers, we are absolutely making a difference,” he said. “I want to stress, though, that we can all do even more, because one life lost is one too many.”
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