work zone memorial, a seatbelt birthday celebration, several proclamations and enhanced enforcement efforts are just a few of the ways transportation safety advocates around the state will mark May as “Transportation Safety Month.” Governor Kulongoski has proclaimed it so (along with May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month) and a variety of events are scheduled, including child car seat clinics, rallies, safety fairs, work zone awareness and more.

“ODOT and all of its divisions — safety, motor carrier, rail, public transit, highway, driver and motor vehicles — work on programs that provide the highest level of safety to the traveling public,” Kulongoski said in his proclamation. “I encourage all Oregonians to join in this observation now, and use safe traveling practices year-round.”

Preliminary figures for 2008 show Oregon had the lowest traffic fatality rate in a decade. And, Oregonians are buckling up in record numbers: 96 percent. Still, 416 people lost their lives in crashes last year. And everyone agrees one loss of life is one too many. Every year, lack of seatbelt use is a major factor in more than half of crash fatalities. For child passengers, it’s especially important to have the right safety seat or booster seat. Throughout May, free child safety seat clinics will be held at fire stations, shopping centers and other locations around the state (see for a complete listing).

The year 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the seat belt, and it’s just one more way to draw attention to this life-saving tool, according to Carla Levinski.

“I want people to understand that we’ve been hearing about seatbelts for 50 years now, so there’s no excuse for someone not buckling up,” said Levinski, Occupant Protection program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation. From May 18 – 21, Oregon will participate in the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign, where law enforcement agencies work overtime to monitor seatbelt usage and encourage safe driving.

It should be clear to Oregonians by now, too, that it’s wise to slow down in work zones. Oregon will experience another record year of construction zones on streets, highways and bridges, so safety advocates are reminding people that “orange is your clue” to pay attention and slow down in work zones.

“State highway vehicle volumes have approximately doubled in the past 20 years, increasing the risks for highway construction workers as well as for travelers on the road,” said Anne Holder, Roadway Safety program manager for ODOT. “Drivers need to pay extra attention and slow down as more drivers and their passengers are killed in work zone related crash than workers.”

A work zone memorial is scheduled for May 4 at Portland’s Pioneer Square, remembering the 81 people who have lost their lives in work zone related crashes in the last 10 years. With record volumes of construction on Oregon’s roads, motorists will need to use caution throughout the summer and fall. Because many work zone crashes occur as vehicles enter the work zone, it’s especially important for motorists to slow down as they approach work zones.

For more safety tips, visit ODOT’s Transportation Safety Web site.

For help with child safety seats, refer to the seat manufacturer’s instructions or vehicle owner’s manual, or call ACTS Oregon Child Safety Seat Resource Center at 1-800-772-1315. To view a video on proper car seat installation, visit