OTE’s tips for a safe and enjoyable journey
Oregon’s highways and byways will be extremely crowded this coming holiday weekend. Oregon Travel Experience would like to remind motorists that icy and snowy conditions are being predicted over the long holiday—and we encourage all travelers to prepare for a safe journey. The following tips may help make your trip more enjoyable as well.
- “Know before you go” This well-known Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) safety campaign is designed to make it easy to plan your route. You can check on current weather conditions, traveler alerts and requirements (such as chains or other traction devices), accidents, construction, and road closures or detours. ODOT’s travel website TripCheck.com makes it super easy to plan your route and stay apprised of any changes.
- How many hours will you be on the road? If your trip is going to take over two hours, you need to plan your safety breaks. OTE manages 29 highway safety rest areas along I-5, I-84, Hwy 26, and Hwy 101. Find out where they are located on our OTE Rest Area web page.
- Keep up with OTE We’ll post updates about rest area closures due to power failures or other issues that require individual rest areas to be closed longer than two hours. You will find the updates on our Facebook page, Twitter, and on the OTE home page under “News and Press.”
- Yawning, rubbing eyes, nodding off? How long have you been behind the wheel? Over three hours? Then it’s time to stop for a reboot. Whether you stop for lunch, a snack, coffee or a bit of a snooze, taking frequent breaks on a long trip are proven to reduce motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. Many of our rest areas serve free coffee (and even tea and hot chocolate) under a unique Oregon law. Learn more about the “Free Coffee Program.”
- Appoint a designated driver Do not drink even a small amount of alcohol at lunch or dinner. This intensifies the effects of fatigue. Plus drinking alcohol, even if you’re not the driver is illegal in Oregon rest areas. Additionally, new marijuana rules will be applied to travelers within rest areas. You may not openly imbibe cannabis products in public spaces, nor may you drive while under the influence. Passengers in your car who consume or use cannabis may also be subject to citation under current rules and regulations. Find out more about what’s allowed or prohibited in this PDF copy of Oregon’s Rest Area Rules. For marijuana rules, please refer to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission “What’s Legal” campaign.
- Adjust your drive times If you normally take a mid-afternoon nap, avoid driving during that time. This would be a perfect opportunity to pull over at one of our larger rest areas and take a walk on one of the walking trails or play a game of Frisbee with the dog or the kids.
- If you can avoid driving after long-distance air travel, the sudden effects of jet-lag may be avoided. Driving a rental car in unfamiliar territory can subject the driver to extra stress, which may intensify that feeling of the “jitters” in another time zone.
- Avoid distracted driving If the kids or the dog are taking a lot of your time and energy to control in your rear-view mirror—it’s time to pull over and take a quick walk or release some pent-up energy with a quick game of tag, and check out the sights around the rest area. Many OTE rest areas have unusual amenities that feature Oregon history or native plant populations. Find out more about our “Rest Area Amenities” web page.
- Safety in rest areas Our rest area staff are normally on duty seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Our security is enhanced with cooperation from local law enforcement and the Oregon State Patrol. Law enforcement are familiar with each of our rest area locations and staff, and are accessible by telephoning 9-1-1. We advise travelers to:
- Lock your vehicle when leaving it to use the rest area
- Check your immediate surroundings before exiting your car
- Stop, look and listen. If you note illicit activity, remain in your vehicle with the doors locked and contact law enforcement
- Never leave visible valuable in your car, such as cellphones, tablets, wallets or purses
- Before leaving the restroom building, make sure you have all personal belongings
- Park in an area that is well-lighted and where other travelers are present—avoid walking in dark or isolated parts of the rest area
Other ways we help you arrive refreshed
Oregon Travel Experience rest areas not only help reduce traffic fatalities, they’re convenient sources of information about nearby businesses, hotels, restaurants, and vacation attractions. Most of our rest area staff live near the locations they tend. Ask one of our specialists for directions and you’re likely to get “insider” tips about the local scene. Our employees take great pride in helping travelers to discover a region’s hidden gems.
Oregon highway maps are also available for free at our rest areas, courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Ask one of our OTE uniformed staff or knock on the OTE rest area office door. If you would like a map, need help finding a lost item, or have minor mechanical difficulties (dead battery, flat tire, etc.), our employees are notoriously friendly and happy to help.
From all of us at Oregon Travel Experience, have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.