Traffic fatalities are soaring in Portland and the Northwest

Traffic deaths are climbing in Portland and throughout the Northwest, partly because of drugged driving.

Traffic fatalities are climbing dramatically in the Northwest states, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, with the increases particularly high in Oregon. In fact, fatal motor vehicle accidents are increasing at a faster rate in the Northwest than in any other region of the country. Police say the increase in fatalities is at least partly due to an increase in drugged driving, which they warn includes not just marijuana, but other drugs as well, including prescription medications. Portland, too, is also witnessing a significant increase in traffic fatalities, which has led to calls for safety improvements for pedestrians.

Deaths in the Northwest

The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that traffic fatalities rose by 25 percent in Oregon last year, slightly higher than the 23 percent spike in Washington state and well above the 16 percent increase in Idaho. Taken together, traffic fatalities in the Northwest are increasing at a faster pace than anywhere else in the country.

According to the Oregonian, Portland itself is also experiencing a dramatic experience in traffic deaths. As of the beginning of April, traffic fatalities in the city have been close double what they were the same time last year. As of April, 13 people had been killed by traffic accidents in Portland, compared to seven the same time last year. That trend is especially concerning given that traffic fatalities in 2015 were already high, representing a spike of 37 deaths after reaching a low of 20 in 2008.

Drugged driving and safety improvements

Throughout the Northwest, police are pointing to drugged driving as one of the causes behind the increase in traffic deaths. While much of the media focus on drugged driving has been on marijuana use, police caution that drugged driving also involves other substances, including prescription drugs that can severely hamper driving performance.

In Portland itself, the rise in fatalities has led to frustration and calls for greater safety improvements. The city has adopted Vision Zero, an ambitious goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in Portland by 2025. Recently, the city has been working to install rapid-flash beacons that make pedestrian crossings more visible for drivers.

Legal help after an accident

The above article is a reminder of just how dangerous driving or using the roads can be in Oregon and throughout the Northwest. As traffic fatalities and serious injuries continue to climb, accident victims need to be assured that they have somebody to turn to for help. A personal injury attorney can assist those who have been hurt in a crash, including by informing them of the claims process and helping them potentially pursue compensation.