Traffic safety reminders for Labor Day Weekend

September 1, 2017

Vision Zero logo
Vision Zero logo

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, the holiday brings tragedy for those involved in traffic crashes.

During the days surrounding the July 4, 2017 holiday, seven people were killed in seven days on roads in the City of Portland. Those seven people account for a quarter of all deaths on Portland’s streets so far in 2017.  These tragic deaths were all preventable.

The City of Portland, Multnomah County and 24 other agencies and community stakeholders are critical partners in Vision Zero, an effort to eliminate deaths and serious injuries by 2025 for all who use streets in Portland and the rest of Multnomah County.

According to data from the Oregon Department of Transportation, 91 percent of deadly crashes in Portland involve impairment, speed, red-light running or other dangerous behaviors. One of our largest challenges is changing human behavior.

“One traffic death is too many,” said Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “We urge everyone, especially drivers, to takes extra care this holiday so families across Portland can celebrate Labor Day weekend safely.”

“This summer’s traffic deaths show that safety on our roads is a growing public health issue,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.  “The county fully supports the Vision Zero goals to eliminate these preventable deaths and injuries.”

We are asking everyone in Multnomah County to make safe travel choices this Labor Day Weekend. Specifically:

  • Drive at a safe speed - nearly half of Portland's deadly crashes involve people driving at unsafe speeds.
  • Drive sober - more than half of deadly crashes in Portland involve people who are intoxicated, usually by alcohol.
  • Drive alert - every three hours someone in Oregon is injured by a distracted driver. Pull over to text message, make or take a phone call.
  • Look out for others - people walking and bicycling don’t have 3,000 pounds of metal to protect them in a crash.
  • Buckle up!


  • Twenty-eight people lost their lives on streets or highways in the City of Portland to date in 2017: more than one third were pedestrians.[1]
  • There were 55 traffic deaths in Multnomah County in 2016.[2] This compares to an annual average of 41 from 2011 through 2015.
  • In 2016, 495 people died on Oregon roads, the highest number since 2003. In 2013 Oregon saw one of its safest years on record, with 313 traffic deaths. Traffic fatalities have been increasing nationwide since 2014.[3]
  • Nationwide, traffic crashes were the leading cause of fatal injuries in 2015 for youth ages 5 to 24, and the second leading cause of fatal injuries for ages 25 and over.[4]

For more information on Vision Zero, visit

[1] Best estimate as of 8/1/2017. This figure excludes a suicide, following National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

[2] ODOT data from personal correspondence, 8/1/17.

[3] National Safety Council. (2017). Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates. Available from: