LA GRANDE – On Friday, April 9th, 2021 local law enforcement will be conducting a saturation patrol in an effort to increase awareness and deter distracted driving. This will be the first of planned triannual events in La Grande and Union County in 2021 to educate distracted drivers and enforce distracted-driving laws.
This effort is a partnership that includes the Oregon Department of Transportation, La Grande Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the Oregon State Police.
Distracted driving has become one of the most common reasons for vehicle crashes on America’s roadways. According to the CDC, approximately 8 people die each day as a result of distracted driving. NHTSA reports there were 3,142 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019. This means that nearly one tenth of all fatal crashes that year were reported as distraction-affected. According to ODOT, between 2014-2018 there were 13,603 fatal and injury crashes resulting in 137 fatalities and 20,992 injuries caused by crashes involving a distract driver in Oregon.
An analysis by the AAA Foundation of 2009-2012 data found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle themselves.
People know texting or using their phone without a hands-free device and driving is dangerous and illegal, but it is often done anyway, and it puts others at risk. On April 9th, you will see increased law enforcement efforts, as officers, deputies, and troopers will be stopping and ticketing those who are caught texting or using their devices illegally while driving. We are not trying to rack up citations – we are trying to save lives.