Making an Impact

September 2022 - Volume 9 - Issue 12

Prevent Illegal School Bus Passing Awareness Campaign

October 17-21, 2022 / National School Bus Safety Week

Statistically, school buses are the safest way to transport school children. Yet more injuries and fatalities occur outside of or near a school bus because a motorist has failed to obey the stop-arm warning or to follow local traffic laws.

  • From 2011 and 2020, there were 1.6 times more fatalities among pedestrians (183) than occupants of school buses (113) in school-bus-related crashes.

  • A total of 218 school-age children (18 and younger) died in school-bus-related crashes during that period, either as occupants of school buses or other vehicles, or on foot or bike.

  • Of the 218 deaths, 85 were children who were walking.

Respect the “Danger Zone” 

The school bus loading and unloading area is called the “Danger Zone.” Specifically, this is any side of the bus where a child may not be seen by the bus driver and, therefore, is in the most danger. Let’s work together to keep our children safe as they wait to ride the bus to and from school. 

 Click here to download earned media campaign materials.

On behalf of the NHTSA team, thanks for your proactive support in school bus safety.

Vehicles can cause wildfires; make sure yours doesn't in hot, windy, dry conditions

For more information, contact Don Hamilton, 503-704-7452

Oregon expects high winds, hot temperatures and dry conditions in the days ahead and that means wildfire danger.

Make sure your autumn memories don’t include starting a wildfire. Over 70% of wildfires are caused by people and in Oregon last year, cars were the number one source of wildfires during the summer.

In these conditions, ODOT maintenance and construction crews will curtail potentially dangerous activities, including mowing and the use of heavy equipment that could throw off sparks.

Power outages in the extreme heat could cause major problems as well, with street lighting and traffic signals going dark. When traffic signals aren't working properly, treat intersections like an all-way stop. Common courtesy says that the driver who stops first, goes first.

When power is out, some cameras and other information on the site may not be available and some tunnel lighting may be out. The lighting in the Vista Ridge Tunnel, in Southwest Portland, however has a backup generator. And variable message signs may not be available, making them unable to communicate emergency conditions.

With persistent and deepening drought conditions, we’re all more aware of the potential wildfire dangers our vehicles pose. And that means we all need to remember the lessons about how to make sure our vehicles don’t cause devastating wildfires.

Now is the time to remember lessons that help prevent roadside wildfires.

  • Stay on hardened surfaces when pulling off the road. Avoid dry grass that might come in contact with your vehicle’s hot exhaust system or catalytic converter.
  • Never, ever toss a lit cigarette or ANY burning materials from your vehicle.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher with you and know how to use it. You may save lives by putting out a small fire before it turns huge.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on rims will throw off sparks.
  • Secure tow chains and make sure they aren’t dragging. That can cause sparks.
  • Maintain your exhaust system. A worn-out catalytic converter can cast off extremely hot pieces of material into dry roadside grass and brush.
  • If you see something, say something. Warn others of the dangers of behaving carelessly with fireworks or other flammables.
  • Stay on the road. Off-road driving is prohibited in most areas during fire season.
  • Be prepared. Keep a cell phone, water, a shovel and a fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.
  • Service your vehicle regularly by a trained mechanic. Heat and electrical sparks coming into contact with leaking flammable car fluids can easily start a fire.

This late into the season, grasses are cured and the forests have all dried out. In these conditions, winds give accidental sparks or car fires the ability to spread quickly.

Remember, we all have a role in preventing wildfires in Oregon, especially as extended drought conditions create a greater window of opportunity for roadside ignitions.

All of us, and our cars, need to be extra careful.

Smokey Bear has it right. We can prevent wildfires.

Rural Roads Are Disproportionately Deadly,

New GHSA Study Finds

In-depth report examines who dies in rural road crashes, why and offers nearly three dozen safety recommendations for states

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rural roads are beautiful, but they’re hiding a deadly secret – nearly half of all fatal crashes occur on them, even though only 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), funded by State Farm®, explores the extent of the rural road safety problem and dives into the data to determine who dies in these crashes and what risky driving behaviors are key contributors. This new resource also offers nearly three dozen recommendations for State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and their partners to help make rural roads safer.

The report, America’s Rural Roads: Beautiful and Deadly, comes as traffic fatalities are soaring nationwide. Rural roads have been especially lethal in recent years. Between 2016 and 2020, the five most recent years of data, 85,002 people have died in crashes on rural roads. That’s more than the entire population of Scranton, Pa., or the seating capacity of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. In 2020, the risk of dying in a crash was 62% higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for the same trip length. While rural road deaths fell for several years before the pandemic, they increased in 2020, mirroring what happened across the country. Deaths on all types of rural roads – interstate, arterial and collector/local – increased further in 2021, according to preliminary National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.

The high rate of crashes on rural roads is caused by several factors, including lack of safety resources, simpler roadway infrastructure, poor emergency medical services and to a significant extent, risky driver behaviors. The biggest culprits are not wearing a seat belt, impaired driving, speeding and distraction.

“Roads are the backbone of rural America, connecting far-flung communities and families. While cities and urban areas have alternatives to driving, that’s not the case for people in rural areas,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Unfortunately, the dangerous and deadly driving behaviors that have increased during the pandemic have taken an oversized toll on rural residents. Making rural roads safer is essential for achieving the national goal of zero fatalities.”

To prevent these crashes and save lives, states, tribes and their partners must understand the unique challenges associated with rural roads – long distances, limited resources, cultural differences and more. The report offers a comprehensive look at the rural road issue through an in-depth analysis of federal data; input from an expert panel representing government, academic and nonprofit organizations; findings of a survey of SHSOs; and peer-reviewed and other relevant literature. The report was produced by Toxcel, a Virginia-based research consulting firm.

Rural Road Safety Trends, 2016-2020

The analysis of Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data conducted for this report uncovered several details about fatalities in rural road crashes and what risky driving behaviors are key factors:

  • Everyone is at risk on rural roads. However, men are involved much more than women (more than two to one), mirroring their overinvolvement in crashes of all types. During the five-year period, 59,793 men died in rural road crashes compared to 25,151 women.

  • The youngest drivers are at particular risk on rural roads. Although fatalities on rural roads involving 14-15-year-old drivers had declined between 2016 and 2019, they spiked in 2020, with rural fatalities for these young teen drivers jumping by 57%, mirroring the national uptick in roadway deaths in the first year of the pandemic.

  • The risk to young drivers does not dissipate when they turn 18 years old. Instead, they continue to crash and die on rural roads well into their twenties – and at exceptionally high rates, the highest of any age group. Fatality rates then decline with age until the mid-forties when they climb again. Adults ages 65 and older make up 19% of the rural population but accounted for 21% of rural road deaths. This will only increase with the graying of the rural population.

  • A lack of seat belt use is a hallmark of fatalities on rural roads. More than half (58%) of U.S. motor vehicle occupants killed in rural road crashes during the five-year period were unrestrained. By comparison, in 2020, 51% of all road fatalities were unbelted.

  • Speeding is a safety problem on all types of roads, but especially in rural areas, where it was a factor in 27% of deaths. Nearly half (46%) of fatalities in crashes that involved speeding occurred on rural roads. Additionally, states with high maximum speed limits tend to have higher per capita rates of fatalities on rural roads than states with lower maximum speed limits.

  • Alcohol and drug use are also key factors, as 43% of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities occurred on a rural road. Drug-impaired drivers killed 2,644 people on rural roads in 2020, but that figure is likely an undercount, as nearly twice as many crash deaths (5,335) have no information about potential drug involvement.

  • Of all fatalities that involved distraction, 46% occurred on rural roads – far more than the population would predict. At least 7,699 people died on rural roads in crashes involving driver distraction over the five-year period, although data are limited because distraction can be difficult for law enforcement or crash scene investigators to ascertain.

The report and its findings will be discussed in detail at the GHSA 2022 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky. During a general session panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon, September 20, safety experts from NHTSA, the National Center for Rural Road Safety, Toxcel, the Wyoming Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America will discuss the barriers to rural road safety and how states can overcome them. More information about that session and the Annual Meeting can be found on the GHSA website.

Car Seat Check Up Events

We know that car seat safety is very important, as it should be, for many new parents. We want you to know are here to help.
We are currently making appointments for car seat education sessions, along with other local partners. Please contact us for more information at 503-899-2220 or via email at [email protected].

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