According to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Oregon’s traffic deaths fell to a low of 9.4% from 416 in 2008 to 377 in 2009. Washington’s road fatalities dropped from 521 to 492, a 5.6% decline.
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cited the weak economy as a contributing factor, saying many Americans had cut back on “discretionary driving,” including going out to bars and restaurants after work or on weekends. At the same time, LaHood stated cars are becoming safer and motorists are becoming increasingly safety conscious.
In Oregon, the annual highway safety report also found:
- The number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities continued a five-year slide, dropping from 137 in 2008 to 115 in 2009.
- Speeding-related road deaths declined from 147 to 125. In 2005, there were 161.
- The number of bicyclists killed in crashes dropped slightly, from 10 in 2008 to eight in 2009. While the number of pedestrians killed on the road dropped from 51 to 35.
- After improving dramatically in 2008, the number of teenagers killed in crashes was on the rise again in 2009, climbing from 34 to 46. In 2005, 84 teens died in vehicle crashes.
Bucking these overall positive trends were motorcycle fatalities in Oregon increased to 53 in 2009 from 48 in 2008. Nationally motorcycling fatalities in 2009 decreased for the first time in more than a decade, dropping to 4,462 in 2009 from 5,312 in 2008. To read the 2009 FARS data in detail click here (.pdf).
In related news and sadly was this morning’s report of a motorcycle rider who died at the scene after a collision with a car at the intersection of South Springwater and Bakers Ferry roads in Oregon City. According to Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Detective Jim Strovink the victim’s wife was following in a separate vehicle and witnessed the crash making this event even more of a tragedy. Names were not released, but photos of the crash scene indicate the rider was a member of The Patriot Guard. They are volunteer’s who provide escorts for veteran funerals, and Veterans coming home ceremony’s. My sincere condolences to his wife and family.
It’s unknown if the driver didn’t yield or if the motorcyclist was at fault. I’ll continue to follow the reports and provide updates. My view is that you can never be defensive enough so please be safe out there.
UPDATE: September 11, 2010 — There is a good update in the Oregonian about Fred J. Brehony who was killed yesterday on his way to the Willamette National Cemetery. As a member of the Patriot Guard Riders he was in route heading to a funeral for Howell “Hal” Birdwell (a U.S. Vietnam War vet) when he collided with a car. Mr. Brehony was a U.S. Navy Veteran who served on a destroyer during the Vietnam War and deeply believed in the mission of the Patriot Guard. He will be missed.
UPDATE: September 14, 2010 — KGW did an expanded story on Mr. Brehony. Video is HERE.
UPDATE: September 14, 2010 (3pm PST) – Information was posted on the PGR Forums Web Site which outlines a two phase mission for Mr. Brehony. One on Thursday, 16/Sept/10 and another on Sunday, 19/Sept/10. Staging and briefing times are covered HERE.
Photo courtesy of Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. Brehony photo courtesy of Olivia Bucks and The Oregonian.