The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, along with their other safety partners, are launching a major, year-long safety education initiative – “Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click” with the goal of educating drivers and encouraging behaviors that reduce crashes and save lives on state roadways. The effort will focus on all aspects of safe driving with increasing seat belt usage statewide as an overarching theme.
Roadway engineering and maintenance is just one piece of the puzzle for highway safety. Even the best roads require drivers to know the rules, pay attention and be responsible. This public awareness effort focuses on a variety of highway safety and driver safety topics throughout the year.
More than 400 people die in crashes on Oklahoma roadways each year, on average, according to 2016-2019 data. Roughly one-half of those fatalities involve drivers or passengers not wearing seat belts, contributing to Oklahoma's No. 43 ranking for seat belt use, which is unacceptable.
Just in the first 15 days of 2021, there were 10 fatalities on Oklahoma highways and five of those were not wearing their seat belts, which potentially could have saved their life. Evidence shows that wearing a seat belt each and every time motorists get in a vehicle not only reduces fatalities, but also often reduces the severity of injuries.
'Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click'
These areas for safety improvement will be highlighted with daily safety tips throughout the year.
ODOT also will highlight engineering innovations that help drivers navigate safely from start to finish, but wants to remind motorists that they share responsibility in highway safety. Each year the calendar will be adjusted to include the top most needed safety messages based on engineering assessments.
The educational effort will make use of public service announcements and social media channels to reach drivers statewide.
Stay Connected and Click With Us in 2021
The department has several tools to help warn motorists of construction, maintenance and emergency closures. They include:
- The Drive Oklahoma mobile app, available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store
- Traffic advisories posted to @OKDOT on Facebook and Twitter
- Sign up at www.odot.org under Stay Connected to receive traffic advisories vai email for counties of interest
- Check www.oktraffic.org for real-time travel information along interstates and specifically in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas. This site also features more than 400 traffic cameras in the two metro areas
- Check www.okroads.org for inclement weather road closures.
Oklahoma's work zones bloom for summer construction season
Springtime and warmer weather means more than just flowers are blooming across our state. Nearly 270 highway construction work zones sprouted up in Oklahoma this year. Join Oklahoma Transportation agencies by springing into action to improve work zone safety.
- 83 people were killed in Oklahoma work zones in the past five years.
- This included 2 Oklahoma Transportation workers.
- Nearly 1,400 people were injured in more than 7,500 crashes statewide.
- 12 work zone deaths occurred by October 2020, according to preliminary data.
- While woker safety is a huge concern, the department is just as concerned about motorist safety as the number of motorists killed in construction zones is exponientially higher than the number of workers killed in the line of duty.
- The best way to not be caught off guard in work zones is to check before you go by using the free Drive Oklahoma mobile app, checking traffic advisories or a map of curent work zones at www.odot.org or viewing traffic conditions at www.oktraffic.org.
Learn more about the emphasis in April 2021 on work zone safety: https://oklahoma.gov/odot/citizen/newsroom/2021/april/oklahoma-s-work-zones-bloom-for-summer-construction-season.html
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driving errors on the road and was the cause of 4,885 collisions in Oklahoma in 2019 alone. But it isn’t just the cell phone distracting motorists; it’s eating, adjusting the radio and even talking with passengers can have life-altering consequences. Oklahoma Transportation wants to work with motorists to eliminate preventable driver errors.
Here are a few items that can make your drive safer:
- Seat belts are one of the most effective safety features available in vehicles today; still nearly one in five Americans fail to regularly wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
- Take that yield sign seriously! In the past five years, failure to yield is among the top three causes of collisions in Oklahoma with more than 4,200 crashes in 2019. This error is often deadly and is preventable by being more patient and accelerating to the speed of flowing traffic.
- You should always give yourself a “cushion of safety,” having open space in front, behind and on the sides. Avoid following too closely. Remember that speed, traffic, road and weather conditions will affect the ability to stop.
- More than 200 highway collisions occur per year in Oklahoma due to unsecured loads. Precious cargo should never be left on the roadway. Use your seat belt to protect you; use tie downs to protect your belongings and #SecureYourLoad.
- More collisions and injuries occur at intersections than at any other place. Always slow down, look both ways, and look left again before you enter an intersection.
- Pulling off the highway can be inherently dangerous. Here's a few tips on how to stay safe: Get as far off the highway as possible and away from traffic; put hazard lights on; stay in the vehicle, if possible; and stay aware of your surroundings.
- Don't let your vehicle be the riskiest part of your drive. Take time to inspect your tires, brakes, lights and other vehicle components subject to wear & tear to ensure proper maintenance. Check out your owner's manual for proper service intervals. And always wear your seat belt.
- Injuries and deaths occur at rail crossings every day. Remember, even in an emergency, some trains can take a mile or more to stop. Keep track when you’re crossing the tracks.
- Road rage has become a danger on roadways. Try to avoid aggressive drivers by keeping a distance from those driving erratically, look straight ahead and refuse to be part of the problem. A good reminder is to not take traffic problems personally.
- Hey, wake up! Did you get enough sleep to be driving? In 2019, there were 748 drowsy driving collisions in Oklahoma. Those who sleep less than five hours at night are as much as five times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who sleep eight hours or more, according to AAA. Get some rest before getting behind the wheel.
In August, there are two important safety messages.
As summer winds down, we’ll give you tips on getting an A+ on your back-to-school driving habits. We’ll also talk about the dangers of speeding, especially in highway work zones.
In 2019 and 2020, there were 116 collisions in school zones in Oklahoma, resulting in two fatalities and five serious injuries. As schools return to session make sure you’re always paying attention in school zones.
September safety campaign focuses on impaired driving
The month of September kicks off football season, tailgates and gatherings with friends.
It's OK to be the life of the party, but this month's safety campaign addresses the importance of getting to and from the party safely.
In 2019, 23.9% of statewide fatal collisions (about one-fourth) were a result of impaired driving. And impaired driving covers more than just drunk driving.
Drug use, both legal and illegal, can lead to impaired driving. Even in states that have legalized cannabis (medical or recreational), driving high is illegal and can result in a DUI.
Drowsy driving is also impaired driving. In 2020, there were 931 drowsy-driving crashes in Oklahoma.
So if you want to be an MVP this season, drive sober or designate a driver.