PBOT, Police stepping up enforcement of traffic laws

PBOT, Police stepping up enforcement of traffic laws

Wheeler Ave traffic and meeting-10

To improve safety, the police are on high alert.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week we told you that Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was rolling up his sleeves to improve road safety. Today he and Commissioner Steve Novick teamed up with the Portland Police Bureau to launch a key component of that effort.

Hales and Novick have ordered the PPB to blanket notoriously dangerous roads with enforcement resources. This “crackdown” on dangerous road users comes after what the City describes as “An unusually high number of traffic fatalities so far this year.” “The public needs to know driver awareness can help keep the roadways safe,” reads their official statement.

“People are dying or being injured on Portland’s streets from traffic crashes that often can be avoided.”
— Michael Reese, Portland Police Chief

Mayor Hales is imploring road users to take it upon themselves to operate their vehicles “without undue distraction”. “You have the power… But it takes all of us, equally, to make that difference,” said Hales.

In a positive sign of collaboration, the City’s statement about the crackdown included comments from Hales, Novick, and Chief of Police Michael Reese. “We have had 23 fatal crashes this year compared to 17 at the same time last year,” Chief Reese said. “People are dying or being injured on Portland’s streets from traffic crashes that often can be avoided.”

Amen.

And to bring the need for this crackdown into context, the City also provided some stats about this year’s road carnage so far:

  • To date in 2013 there have been 23 fatal traffic crashes in the City of Portland. There were 31 in all of 2012.
  • At this time last year, there had been 17 fatal traffic crashes.
  • Breakdown of 2013 fatalities: 14-motor vehicle; 3-motorcycle; 6-pedestrian; 0-Bicyclists
  • 12 of the 23 fatalities have involved impaired drivers with BAC’s ranging from .15 – .25%
  • Of the 6 pedestrian fatalities, motor vehicle drivers have been at fault in 4 of them
  • There were 4 traffic fatalities in 6 days from July 5 to 11. Two involved speeding and impaired drivers.
  • Driver/pedestrian distraction or inattention: 4 of the 6 pedestrian fatalities could have been avoided if the pedestrian and/or driver were focused on their actions

The PPB has also taken to their Twitter account to promote today’s crackdown. They’re posting updates about collision stats and announcing the location of their targeted enforcement missions. They’ve also unveiled a live map of traffic stops. They’ll focus on two locations today: from noon to 3:30 pm they’ll be out at SE Division Street, from SE 82nd to 162nd and then from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm they’ll be at SW Barbur Boulevard, from SW Hamilton to Capitol Highway. Both of those locations are on the City’s list of 10 ‘High Crash Corridors.’

We’re happy to see more enforcement, and the communication from PBOT and PPB to the public about the seriousness of this issue is also a welcome sign. However, it will take much more than enforcement to make streets safer. We need policy and legal changes, as well as a re-think of how we spend state and local transportation safety funds. We hope to report more on those fronts in the weeks and months to come.

In the meantime, drive and ride safely and let us know if you notice the increased police presence.

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