Mayor Hales: Spate of fatal crashes ‘unacceptable’

Mayor Hales: Spate of fatal crashes ‘unacceptable’

Active Transportation Debate at PSU-5

Mayor Hales
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Office of Mayor Charlie Hales put out a statement this morning saying that “traffic fatalities are too high” and “Portlanders must drive sober.”

Here are the opening paragraphs:

“The number of people dying in traffic crashes on Portland streets this year is unacceptable according to Mayor Charlie Hales. In office for less than 80 days, the new mayor was alarmed that there have already been 11 traffic fatalities with five of those 11 involving driving under the influence.

“Every person who dies in a crash represents a family and community tragedy. So far in 2013, we’re averaging about one death a week. That’s unacceptable,” Hales said. “Leadership at the Transportation Bureau, Portland Police Bureau and I are alarmed that five people have lost their lives this year related to driving under the influence. Drive sober to save lives. Doing otherwise is illegal and reckless.”

While the headline of this statement is about drunk driving, it appears a majority of fatalities so far (6 out of 11) did not involve driving under the influence. Reading the entire statement, it’s clear this is an effort by Mayor Hales to show he is serious about safety. After all, he’s getting a lot of heat for presiding over a PBOT budget that cut a sidewalk project in east Portland in order to fund more paving. Hales is also coming off a campaign where he repeatedly said that he’s take a “roads-first” approach and that paving would be PBOT’s #1 priority.

To show that his administration is doing more than just talk about transportation safety, Hales pointed to PBOT’s ongoing High Crash Corridor program (which was started by Mayor Sam Adams). Beyond that, the statement included no mention of any new programs or policies that would amplify existing safety efforts.

This is the second transportation safety statement Mayor Hales has made this month. On March 1st, following the tragic collision that killed a five-year-old girl who was crossing a notoriously dangerous street in southeast Portland, Hales said, “Safety throughout the city has to be our first priority. I have been at work fewer than 60 days, and so far the city of Portland has experienced eight automobile-related fatalities, four of which were pedestrian deaths… public safety has to be our North Star, guiding all of our decisions in every part of the city.”

Read the full statement here.

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