The following are excerpts from the 2004 Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan. The Plan was recommended for approval by the Oregon Transportation Safety Committee on May 11, 2004. The Plan was formally adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission on July 14, 2004.

 

Background

The Oregon Transportation Safety Action envisions a future where Oregon’s transportation-related death and injury rate continues to decline. During the last 20 years, Oregon’s traffic death rate has fallen dramatically. The year 1972 marked Oregon’s highest traffic death toll when 737 persons died in motor vehicle crashes in Oregon, amounting to 4.8 people killed per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. By 1983, the statewide traffic death rate was nearly cut in half to 2.7 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2002, 436 reported traffic fatalities occurred and Oregon’s highway death rate continued to fall to 1.26 people killed per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, or about 15% below the national average for the first time in forty years.

Meanwhile, deaths related to other transportation modes have fallen only slightly. Oregon’s significant reduction in transportation-related deaths and injuries largely resulted from a public outcry that too many people were dying needlessly, and from citizen demands for tougher laws and more effective programs. Consequently, stricter laws, coupled with aggressive education and public information efforts, have increased safety awareness and encouraged changes in driving behavior. Oregonians have shown a growing confidence in the safety of their transportation system.

While Oregon’s progress has been significant, traffic crashes are still the leading cause of death for persons under age 35. In 2002:

1) Alcohol and/or other drugs were involved in 45.6 percent of the fatal motor vehicle crashes in Oregon.

2) Safety restraints were not used by the fatal victim in 50 percent of the fatal motor vehicle crashes in Oregon in 2002.

3) Speed contributed to 51.6 percent of the fatal motor vehicle crashes in Oregon.

4) Drivers less than 21 years of age accounted for 18.47% of the drivers involved in fatal and injury crashes, yet comprised only 8% of the driving population.

 

Moderate reductions in Oregon’s highway death toll can be continued through current programs, but a more concentrated effort will prevent many crashes and save a significant number of lives and dollars. This renewed Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan will help strengthen the focus of our efforts to the factors contributing to the most transportation-related fatalities and injuries and will encourage safety programs and practices that address other significant safety problems. These problems include the rising death toll for pedestrians and roadside workers, secondary crashes occurring on our urban freeways, inadequate emergency response services, and conflicts between motor vehicles and other travel modes.

In developing the original Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP) in 1992, the state Transportation Commission established broad, long-range goals, policies, and actions that will help develop an efficient, effective, and safe integrated transportation system for Oregon during the next 20-40 years. The original 1995 Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan (OTSAP) is one of several more specific plans that further define the OTP’s near-term goals and actions.

This renewed OTSAP encourages the development of partnerships among state and local governments, community groups, businesses, and the media to achieve a safer transportation system. With a shared commitment, the actions in the plan can be effectively implemented.

As with the original, this renewed Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan is a living document that gives direction to our efforts and guides investment decisions. As the actions this renewed plan recommends are implemented, we will learn more about which programs are most effective and we will make increasingly better decisions.

The sixty nine actions in the renewed OTSAP were chosen by the Oregon Transportation Safety Committee after thorough consideration of the crash data and information provided by more than 150 transportation safety experts who presented their views on the most troubling problems and promising solutions. These actions are organized by the framework provided in the OTP.

Nine actions that respond to the factors that contribute to the most transportation-related deaths and injuries—impaired driving, not using safety restraints, speed, and inexperience—were identified as key actions which should be implemented by the year 2014.

 

Key Action-Driver Education

The sixty nine actions can be considered Oregon’s transportation safety agenda for the next twenty years. Driver education is highlighted as a one of the nine key actions—Driver education will be given highest priority for implementation by the year 2010. In implementing these key actions, consideration should be given to those geographical areas with the greatest needs, based, in part, on an analysis of transportation crash data.

 

OTSAP Action 10 - Expand Driver Education in Oregon

Improve and expand the delivery system for driver education in Oregon. Consider the following in designing a model program:

1) Consider legislation to make driver education mandatory for new drivers under age 18

2) Evaluate the possibility of funding the increased cost of providing this additional training by raising learning permit fees.

3) If feasible, by the year 2015 extend this requirement to all persons seeking their first driver license.

4) Establish new and improved standards to support quality driver and traffic safety education programs.

5) Establish a definition of what a model driver is in terms of knowledge, skill, behavior and habits. Once the definition is established, design a curriculum that is aligned with the expectations of a model driver. The curricula should address content, methods, and student assessments.

6) Establish standards for teacher preparation programs that fully prepare instructors to model and teach the knowledge, skill behavior and habits needed. These standards should include requirements for ongoing professional development.

7) Evaluate the possibility of establishing a licensing process that measures driver readiness as defined by the model driver, and employs a process that facilitates the safety means to merge the learning driver into mainstream driving.

8) Establish program standards that apply to every driver education/training program/school.

9) Develop oversight and management standards that hold the driver education system accountable. These standards should encourage quality and compel adherence to program standards.

10) Identify and promote strategies that establish a driver and traffic safety education system.

11) This system should promote life long driver learning, and foster a commitment to improve driver performance throughout the driver’s life span.

12) Create partnerships to support driver education.

13) Identify and promote best practices for teaching and learning among and between parents, educators, students and other citizens.

 

What are we doing now?

Last year, approximately 10,400 students took driver education through the public schools, and approximately 4,000 students took driver education through a private vendor. At this time, ODOT currently provides driver education expense reimbursement of up to $150 per qualified student. Public schools, community colleges, and Educational Service Districts may submit a reimbursement request annually. An Advisory Committee meets quarterly to provide the program director with recommendations related to driver education issues. A model parent involvement resource guide has been developed.

 

What more needs to happen?

1) Public support, funding and inclusion of private providers

2) Agreement should be reached on the majority of issues under consideration

3) Implement consistent, statewide standards for the driver education curriculum and the driver education instructor

4) Practical, available & affordable instructor training

5) Develop a database to track Master Trainer activity as they provide training for front line teachers throughout the state

6) DMV examiners must be exposed to the same "Fundamentals of Traffic Safety" as driving instructors - Contests to persuade students to save CARPOOL’s phone number in their cell phones

7) Wearing CARPOOL’s signature bright green shirts

8) Advertisements placed in the student newspaper

9) Bright green business cards placed in bars and restaurants

 

Organizational Impact

By any measure, CARPOOL has been successful in accomplishing its mission of preventing impaired driving. Its efforts have had powerful protective impact on the local community.

1) CARPOOL enjoys a solid and positive relationship with local law enforcement. The community police recognize that CARPOOL actively prevents impaired driving by providing safe rides home and enthusiastically supports its continued operation.

2) The organization has the respect of the university. In fact, the university is so supportive of CARPOOL that it places the organization’s phone number on the back of each student’s identification card.

3) CARPOOL personnel have found that involvement with the organization impresses potential employers. Its applied activities allow its personnel to acquire valuable experience that goes well beyond that gained in the classroom.

4) CARPOOL has helped spread its operational model to five additional universities, expanding its impact to other communities. Lastly, over the past six years, CARPOOL has gotten 59,651 people home safely, preventing uncountable instances of impaired driving

 

What are the benefits of doing more?

A reduction in fatal and injury crashes for 16 & 17 year olds. This age group account for 6% of the fatal & injury crashes in the state. In 2000, there were 2,099 injury and fatal collisions among 16 & 17 year olds, with an economic cost of $117 million dollars per year. In 2002, 436 people were killed and 28,348 injured in traffic crashes in Oregon with an economic impact of $1,948,000,000 or $569 per person. By training all new drivers’ lives will be saved and losses will be reduced.

 

How will we measure progress?

By establishing a task force that meets regularly and is given the resources to lay out the framework. Track whether or not the rate of fatal & injury crashes is being reduced.

 

How much will it cost?

Instructor training: 200 per year @ $1,000 each - Ongoing curriculum development - Student training costs: 45,000 teens @ $400 each (45+8+8)

 

What legislative, administrative rule or organizational changes are required?

1) Reimbursement to qualified commercial driving schools

2) Mandatory DE with minimum competency requirements

3) Hold providers accountable for student learning

4) Require driver training for drivers of all ages seeking a license for the first time

5) Raise learner permit fees

6) Require assessments and training for at-risk drivers

 

 


John L. Harvey, Program Manager Driver Education