DUIIs heighten the inherent hazard of traveling by automobile

June 4, 2005

Sobering statistics came this week from Oregon State Police:

A sharp rise was reported in traffic citations for the year, and for the Memorial Day holiday, May 27 through May 30, when at least eight people died on Oregon highways.

OSP reports that for Memorial Day 2005, there were 81 DUII arrests, compared to 57 for the same span in 2004.

Speed-related citations also went up considerably:

People driving over the 55-miles-per-hour speed limit were cited 637 times, compared to 578 in 2004.

Drivers caught violating the 65-mph limit totaled 693 this year — about 20 percent more than the 558 citations for the the same weekend in 2004.

Research paints a frightening picture of the havoc wreaked by impaired drivers. According to Oregon Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency, for every 140 miles driven in Oregon in 2000, somebody with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 was at the wheel of a vehicle.

Does that mean that if you go to The Dalles, a distance of 20 miles and pass seven cars, that one of those cars will be driven by someone who is under the influence? Not necessarily. Statistically, the numbers might reflect heightened patrols and increased monitoring skills by our public servants. In terms of driving circumstances themselves, factors such as fatigue, speed, driver distraction, traffic volume, weather and other factors come into effect regarding traffic accidents.

But certain facts remain: statewide, police reported that 838 crashes involved a driver or pedestrian with a BAC of .01 or more (.08 is the legal limit in Oregon).

As you go mobile this summer, and all year around, consider all the factors that go into the inherent hazard of traveling by automobile, and employ caution at all times.

Be careful out there.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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