Pre-Holiday Distracted Driving Patrols Begin (Photo)
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Local law enforcement agencies are teaming up to help prevent crashes involving distracted driving. Through Saturday, personnel from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and Medford Police Department (MPD) will be watching for drivers affected by cell phones and other distractions.
“The goal is to bring awareness to the problem and to hopefully prevent tragedies around the holidays,” said JCSO Sergeant Heath Kocina.
Deputies say impaired driving is commonly acknowledged as a problem during the holiday season, but it isn’t the only traffic concern. Distractions such as cell phones and winter weather conditions like fog and rain compound the danger to motorists. As people head out to finish their holiday shopping and attend events, more vehicles clog roadways, increasing the potential for crashes.
The patrols will focus on busy roadways – especially those near or leading to popular shopping areas – between December 18 and 22, 2018. Grant funding earmarked for the enforcement of distracted driving laws allows law enforcement agencies to add overtime patrols without taking away from regular calls for service.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving led to the deaths of 3,450 people in the United States in 2016. Deputies urge drivers to ditch the distractions and keep their eyes on the road.
Since October 2017, Oregon law has prohibited drivers from any “hands on” cell phone use while driving. Updates to the law since July 2018 create steeper penalties, especially for repeat offenders. A first offense that doesn’t contribute to a crash is a Class B violation with a maximum fine of $1,000. A second offense (or a first offense that contributes to a crash) is Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,000. A third offense in ten years can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which could result in a maximum fine of $2,500 and six months in jail.
For more information on Oregon’s distracted driving laws, go to https://www.oregon.gov/odot/safety/pages/distracted.aspx .