In April, law enforcement and traffic safety partners took educational and enforcement steps to increase awareness and save lives during national “Distracted Driving Awareness” month.

Joint Enforcement to Catch Distracted Drivers

Monday morning, April 21, and Friday afternoon, April 25, the Oregon State Police (OSP), Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and Tualatin Police Department conducted joint enforcement operations on Interstate 5, Interstate 205 and area roads, to prevent traffic crashes caused by distracted driving.

Cell Phone Use a Major Cause of Accidents

A distraction is anything that takes your eyes and mind off the road and your hands off the wheel. Distracted driving causes crashes involving following too close, failing to obey traffic control devices, failing to maintain lane of travel, and roadway departures. Cellphone use while driving (Unlawful Use of a Mobile Communication Device) frequently causes these accidents.

According to ODOT, from 2008 – 2012 in Oregon, 13 people were killed in crashes involving drivers using a handheld mobile communication device to talk or text. During that same five year period in Oregon, 65 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.

On March 27, 2014 at approximately 3:17 a.m., OSP, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, local fire and medical personnel, and ODOT were dispatched to a reported a traffic crash involving a wrong way driver in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 near milepost 24. The crash involved two vehicles with one confirmed fatality. Preliminary investigation indicated a silver 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan driven by a man, age 42, from Grants Pass, was driving northbound in the right hand southbound lane of Interstate 5 when it collided head-on with a southbound 2006 Honda Civic driven by a woman, age 58, from Ashland.

On March 31, 2014 at approximately 9:00 a.m., a 2003 Toyota Corolla driven by a woman, age 35, from Beaverton, was westbound on Highway 26 near milepost 51 when it crossed into the eastbound lane and crashed into the left front corner of an eastbound 2007 Freightliner truck.

On April 15, 2014 at approximately 4:45 a.m., a 2002 Volkswagen bug driven by a man, age 47, from Jacksonville, was westbound on Highway 238 near milepost 23 when an eastbound 1996 Ford Explorer operated by a man, age 41, from the Applegate, crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into the Volkswagen.

Eyes off the Road Causes Crashes

When sending or receiving a text, a driver’s eyes are taken off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. A 55 mph speed (the posted speed on the targeted highways listed above) is equal to driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

Traffic safety enforcement officials remind you to put the phone away and keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road to make driving safer for everyone.