Every year, dozens of people are killed in major crashes on Southern Oregon's rural roads, winding highways, and along the interstate.
NewsWatch 12 has compiled a map of just some of the fatal crashes across Southern Oregon since the beginning of 2019 — a visual representation of the devastating events that can happen on our roadways and what it can cost a person or a family, particularly when drivers are distracted, intoxicated, incautious, or failing to obey the rules of the road.
For every crash that causes a death, there are a handful more that end in injury for the driver, passengers, or pedestrians.
Government agencies and advocacy groups have taken to calling the summer months the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” as the number of fatal crashes reliably spike each year. These summer deaths disproportionately affect young people, but are not limited to them alone.
While a few of these crashes happened in the early months of 2019, the vast majority occurred over the summer months. We are far from immune to the 100 Deadliest Days.
U.S. 199 (Redwood Highway) in particular has a well-earned reputation for the number of serious crashes that occur on and around it. With only one lane in each direction, frequent curves and often little in the way of shoulders, it’s a roadway that can be unforgiving to drivers — especially those who are not practicing proper safety precautions.
The Illinois Valley Fire District (IVFD), which serves a 25-mile stretch of Hwy 199, frequently responds to those crashes. In just the first half of 2019, IVFD went out to 48 crashes serious enough to warrant an emergency response — nearly two crashes per mile of roadway the District covers. Firefighters responded to the same number of crashes by this time last year.
Crashes on Hwy 199 have become problematic enough that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently rolled out a safety blitz for the highway, including new safety signage, messaging, and potential short-term improvements to the roadway while engineers mull longer term solutions.