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2008 Preliminary Review of OSP High Speed Enforcement Shows Drops in Several Key Areas
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Shelley Snow
ODOT Public Affairs
Phone: (503) 881-5362

The following links available for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
Review statisctics:
A follow-up review of Oregon State Police troopers' enforcement statistics involving high speed traffic-related stops in 2008 indicates an approximate 25 percent drop in citations issued to drivers traveling 100 mph or faster. The review also shows fewer reported driving complaints, fewer suspension orders for drivers who violate tougher laws passed to address high speed drivers, and fewer traffic fatalities in 2008.
In January 2006, a new law passed by the Oregon legislature took effect providing tougher penalties for drivers convicted of traveling over 100 mph. At a time when there was a noticeable diminished enforcement presence on Oregon roads, the strong penalties were passed in effort to save lives endangered by drivers traveling at dangerous high speeds.
During the last three years, Oregon State Police has done an annual review of enforcement activities involving the extreme speeder – drivers going 100 mph or faster on Oregon roads. Following the layoff of 129 Oregon State Police troopers in 2003, enforcement statistics clearly showed more drivers were being cited by troopers at high speeds even though there were fewer troopers working on Oregon highways.
The preliminary 2008 statistical review indicated:
  • Oregon State Police troopers cited 376 drivers for driving 100 mph or faster, an approximate 25 percent decrease over the number cited in 2007 when 494 citations were issued.
  • Oregon enacted tougher laws to address the excessive speeder in an effort to save lives. Effective January 1, 2006, Senate Bill 568 specifies that driving a vehicle over 100 mph carries a mandatory minimum 30 – 90 day suspension in addition to a $1,103.00 fine.
  • Preliminary statistics for 2008 indicate DMV posted 366 court ordered suspensions for speeding while driving over 100 mph. During the previous calendar year, DMV posted 428 court ordered suspensions.
  • Between 2000 and 2008, Oregon State Police troopers cited over 35,500 drivers for going between 90 – 99 mph, and more than 4,500 drivers for going 100 mph and faster.
  • Preliminary information provided through OSP dispatch records shows a drop in reported driving complaints of approximately 17 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. In 2008, there were over 40,500 driving complaints, an average of 111 per day and 4.6 per hour. In 2007, there were over 49,000 complaints, an average of 135 per day and 5.6 per hour. Prior to 2008, reported driving complaints showed a steady rise from 22,700 in 2000.
  • Excessive speed is a factor in half of all traffic fatalities, and it is the only factor in about 30 percent (Oregon Department of Transportation). Traffic fatalities in 2008 dropped by approximately 8 percent compared to 2007 fatality statistics.
Oregon State Police Captain Gerry Gregg, director of the Patrol Services Division, noted it is difficult to pinpoint the main reason or reasons for this drop, but believes there are four possible contributing factors to consider.
"We hope that many drivers are making a conscious decision to obey our speed laws, but it appears we have a four-legged stool that may be helping to support this noted drop during this time" said Gregg. "They are enforcement, stronger laws and penalties, increased educational information, and an economy that could be affecting how we drive."
In 1980, the Oregon State Police had 665 patrol troopers. Staffing reductions over the years dropped the Department to its lowest levels following the layoff of more than 120 troopers in 2003. During the 2007 legislative session and the brief 2008 session, 139 new trooper positions were authorized to be hired during the next two years. Since July 2007, the Department has hired and retained over 125 troopers.
"Visible, active enforcement does have an impact. The increased number of state troopers, working in partnerships with county and city officers, providing a visible presence and active enforcement on Interstate freeways and secondary state highways where these high speeds occur more often is paying off," said Gregg.
A second contributing factor appears to be increased fines and the threat of court-ordered suspended driving privileges for drivers going over 100 mph. Drivers cited 100 mph and faster have decreased nearly 30% since 2006 when the stronger laws took effect.
A consistent emphasis by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and law enforcement placed on providing more information to educate drivers may be a third factor. Stressing the impact of dangerous driving behavior backed up by special enforcement efforts using ODOT-provided overtime grant funding is putting more police in known problem areas to address specific traffic safety problems.
The fourth possible factor could be the effect that the recent economic downturn may be having on how much we drive and the way we drive. According to ODOT Economist John Merriss, based on past studies, most experts believe the state of the economy actually has a much larger impact on travel than fuel prices do.
"The negative impacts on travel resulting from the rapid deterioration of the state's economy after July simply overwhelmed the positive impacts of lower gas prices," said Merriss.
Captain Gregg stressed that the drop in citations in 2008 does not indicate the dangers associated with high speed drivers disappeared. The following are several examples from 2008 of those who didn't seem to get the message. Most were stopped and cited or arrested, but as you will note a couple were involved in a more serious incident because they were driving at dangerous speeds.
  • In November, a trooper working on Highway 30 near Bennett Road checked a car in heavy fog at 98 mph in a 50 mph speed zone. The driver attempted to ditch the trooper by turning off onto a side road but was stopped shortly after doing so. The driver, who stated he was late for work, was charged with Reckless Driving.
  • In October, a trooper stopped a car on Interstate 205 near Clackamas for traveling over 100 mph. The driver was arrested for DUII and Reckless Driving, and a subsequent vehicle search revealed approximately 36 grams of cocaine, 205 grams of marijuana, over $2,500 cash, and also led to a marijuana grow operation at his home.
  • In September, OSP troopers investigated a fatal traffic motorcycle crash on Highway 58 near Oakridge. The motorcycle operator was spotted by police traveling at a high rate of speed, failed to stop and attempted to elude officers in excess of 100 mph. The motorcyclist subsequently lost control and collided with a guardrail. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • In September, a captain driving an unmarked vehicle in eastern Oregon was involved in two high speeds stops in one day. The first involved a Canadian resident paced on Highway 395 north of Burns between 100 and 110 mph who said he was late for a golf game. The second occurred three hours later when a Molalla resident was paced at 130 mph on Highway 20 east of Bend. Unaware, the driver pulled away at higher speeds but had to eventually slow down because of slower commercial vehicles allowing the captain to catch up and stop the vehicle. The driver admitted to hitting speeds in excess of 150 mph as he was trying to see if he could make it from Burns to Bend in one hour.
  • In September, two sergeants in an unmarked vehicle returning to Roseburg from Salem-area training paced a van at over 110 mph southbound Interstate 5 for about 15 miles before a Douglas County deputy in a marked car was able to stop the van. The female driver was arrested for Reckless Driving.
  • In September, a trooper investigated a single vehicle crash on Highway 101 involving high speed. One of the passengers told the trooper the speedometer indicated 95 mph and they screamed at the driver to slow down just before the crash. The driver was charged with DUII (nearly 3 times legal .08 BAC), Reckless Driving, and 3 counts of Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
  • In August, a sergeant parked in the center median on Interstate 5 south of Albany observed a PT Cruiser go by at a high rate of speed. After pacing the vehicle at 109 mph, it was stopped and the driver, who said he was trying to make a flight at the Portland airport, was arrested for Reckless Driving.
  • In August, a trooper checked a speeding vehicle on the Highway 26 coast range at 105 mph. Upon stopping the vehicle the trooper noted that there were four small children inside and took appropriate enforcement action.
  • In June, a trooper operating an unmarked Aggressive Driving Enforcement Program (ADEP) vehicle paced a motorcycle on Highway 20W near the top of Santiam Pass for several miles at speeds in excess of 100 mph as it made numerous unsafe passes and followed vehicles too closely.
  • In April, two troopers returning from training received a call that another trooper was unable to keep up with a motorcycle driving 100 – 115 mph northbound on Interstate 5 north of Eugene. The two troopers set up along the freeway, stopped the motorcyclist and arrested the male operator for Reckless Driving. The troopers discovered the man had videotaped his speedometer at speeds up to 164 mph before being stopped. (Video previously released to media)
  • In February, two troopers responded to a driving complaint of four motorcycles on Interstate 5 between Woodburn and Brooks driving a high speeds, passing on the shoulder and center median, an weaving in and out of traffic. The caller followed the motorcycles into the Brooks-area truck stop and assisted troopers with catching 3 of the 4 motorcycle operators. Based upon witness observations, the motorcycle operators, ages 19, 21, and 40, were arrested for Reckless Driving.
Oregon State Police and ODOT encourage motorists to report dangerous drivers by call 9-1-1 or Oregon State Police dispatch centers.
A copy of the review is available with this news release using the top link.