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News Release: Multnomah County and PBOT remind people to travel safely this Labor Day holiday

Traffic deaths in Portland 8.28.19

Vision Zero Portland logo

(Aug. 29, 2019) The Labor Day holiday is a time of celebration.  

The long weekend is a time to mark the achievements of the labor movement and the unofficial end of summer. We celebrate with barbecues, outdoor recreation, and road trips. But all too often, travel brings tragedy for those involved in traffic crashes. 

This year, 36 people have died in crashes on Portland streets—the most deaths at this point in the year since at least 2015. Nearly half of those killed have been pedestrians, increasingly adults ages 65 and over.  

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, nearly a third of drivers involved in fatal car crashes in 2017 had been drinking. Out of 56 fatal crashes in Multnomah County in 2017, 21 of them involved drivers who had been drinking. 

Crashes from impaired-driving also have a devastating financial impact. Based on 2010 numbers (the most recent year for which cost data is available), impaired-driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually. On average, a DUII could set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing, and more.  

Help keep yourself and others safe this Labor Day weekend by doing the following: 

  • Travel at a safe speed. Nearly half of Portland's deadly crashes involve people traveling at unsafe speeds.  
  • Travel sober. More than half of deadly crashes in Portland involve people who are intoxicated, usually by alcohol. Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely. 
  • Stay alert. Every three hours, someone in Oregon is injured by a distracted driver. Pull over to use a mobile device. 
  • Look out for others. Pedestrians and people bicycling don’t have 4,000 pounds of metal to protect them in a crash. 
  • Buckle up! Seat belts save lives. 


"Holidays are a particularly dangerous time on the road. As Labor Day approaches, I'd like to remind everyone to look out for others as you travel,” said Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Director Chris Warner. “It has been a tragic year already for traffic fatalities in Portland. Let's do everything we can to slow this trend. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role to play in making our streets safe.” 

"You can prevent crashes and deaths from impaired driving," said Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. "Put someone else in the driver's seat when you have been drinking- text a friend, call a cab, order an Uber or Lyft, but don't drive yourself." 

Thank you for supporting the City of Portland’s Vision Zero work to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.