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Stepped Up Enforcement Aims to Reduce Crashes on State Highways in Polk County
Lieutenant Eric C. Judah
Oregon State Police - Salem
Office: (503) 378-3387

Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers will be targeting state highways Friday in Polk County in an effort to increase visible patrols to help reduce crashes and associated damage, injuries and deaths. Due to past OSP staffing cutbacks fewer state troopers were patrolling this area, but recent increased staffing at the Salem Area Command office is helping OSP put troopers back onto these area highways working together with local agencies and ODOT.
Over the past several years the Oregon State Police Salem Area Command, which is responsible for OSP response to incidents on state routes and state properties in Polk County, went through a period of significant patrol staffing reductions to a point that consistent trooper patrolling was shifted away from this area to other areas along the Interstate 5 corridor. OSP Area Commander Lieutenant Eric Judah is now able to start putting consistent OSP trooper patrols back into this area to provide a quicker response to reported incidents and requests for assistance from local public safety agencies.
"Since the State's investment began to rebuild patrol staffing statewide with the eventual goal of returning offices such as the Salem Area Command back to 24/7 coverage, we are now in a position to once again focus more patrols back into areas that we were only reactively responding to when calls for service required," said Judah.
On Friday, January 23rd, between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. six OSP troopers will work one of several anticipated enhanced enforcement efforts patrolling Highway 22, Highway 223, Highway 51, and Highway 99W in Polk County. The primary enforcement focus will be on hazardous moving violations such as speed, following too close, improper lane changes, and aggressive driving behavior. Troopers will also use this as an opportunity to educate drivers during traffic stops regarding our State's "Move Over Law."
Using traffic crash data for the Polk County area and meeting with ODOT and local agencies, the Salem Area Command office is developing a long term tactical plan targeting several problem zones in this area where visible enforcement efforts may help reduce traffic crashes and improve highway safety. OSP will work with Polk County Sheriff's Office and local police departments to finalize the tactical plan and implement a joint enforcement effort.
Between November 21st and December 3rd, 2008, there were three fatal crashes resulting in the death of four people in this area on Highway 51, Highway 22, and Highway 223. Two of the crashes were because of improper lane changes and one due to an improper turn.
"The crash data from ODOT has also shown us that many of the crashes in the last three years were a result of driving too fast, driving in the wrong lane, inattention, and failing to yield the right of way. Our goal starting Friday is to get the attention of drivers that we plan on having a significant presence on these highways so they drive safer and see fewer traffic crashes. Our long term goals are to re-establish a daily patrol presence on Polk County highways and return to having an assigned resident trooper who lives and works within this area," said Judah.
As a reminder, the "Move Over" law" (ORS 811.147) states that if you are driving up behind or next to any type of emergency vehicle - police car, ambulance or public safety vehicle - working on the roadside with emergency lights flashing, you must:
  • Move over to another lane.
  • If you cannot safely change lanes, you must slow down.
  • In all cases, the driver must try to provide as much room as possible for the emergency vehicle.
Failure to comply with the "Move Over" law" can result in a fine up to $355.