Officials urge traffic safety this Halloween weekend


Traffic along NE 82nd near Alberta in Portland, May 7, 2021 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Those out this weekend, whether trick-or-treating or not, are advised to be extra cautious to avoid any road accidents.

Multnomah County officials warn of the dangers the Halloween weekend brings but said there are some things people can do to reduce the likelihood of a crash or injury.

Officials said drivers should maintain a safe speed, pay attention at intersections and crosswalks, particularly when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists, and finally don’t drink and drive.

Parents can keep their kids safe trick-or-treating by making them visible to drivers either by wearing reflective tape or having them carry a flashlight or glow sticks. Officials advised pedestrians should walk on sidewalks and posted crosswalks, and when that’s not possible trick-or-treaters should walk facing traffic but maintain as much distance from the cars as possible.

Traffic deaths have reached record highs, according to the county.

“Too often, crashes and deaths are viewed as the result of individual acts or random circumstances, but we know that we cannot improve safety without understanding the patterns, trends and disparities behind the numbers,’’ said Deborah Kafoury, the county chair.

Accidents on the road are the main cause of preventable injury and death in the county, officials said.

A report conducted by transportation and law enforcement showed that 84 people died from traffic accidents in 2020. This was more than the prior 15 years, with the average between 2014 and 2018 being 46 traffic-related deaths.

”The REACH Traffic Safety Report established a baseline on disparities,’’ said Charlene McGee, REACH program manager. “It is a call to action to work collectively on adopting and implementing policy, system and environmental changes that will protect — and promote — the health and well-being of all County residents”

The rate of crash injury deaths was nearly twice the rate among Black residents compared to white residents from 2013 to 2017 according to a report released by REACH. Another report said the rate of potential life lost from traffic crashes in East Multnomah County is almost double the rate in inner Portland.

Earlier this year, racism was declared a public health issue prompting county leaders to understand the systemic inequities.

“We are focusing our safety efforts on our roads in East County cities, where a larger percentage of low-income and BIPOC residents live,” said Jamie Waltz, the director of the County’s Department of Community Services.

Possible factors contributing to these disparities are differences in the pavement, speed limits, lighting and sidewalks.

Multnomah County is on track to match last year’s rate of traffic deaths. As of Monday, there were 62 traffic deaths in the county over the past year, according to officials.

A report detailing the county’s crash analysis is expected to be complete sometime in 2022.

“We want everyone to make it home safely,” Kafoury said.

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