LA GRANDE — Local law enforcement will run extra patrols later this week to catch distracted drivers.
April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month, and on Friday, April 9, local law enforcement will conduct a saturation patrol to increase awareness and deter distracted driving, according to press release from the La Grande Police Department.
This will be the first of three events in La Grande and Union County in 2021 to educate distracted drivers and enforce distracted-driving laws, the release stated.
The effort is a partnership involving the Oregon Department of Transportation, La Grande Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police.
On Friday in La Grande, officers, deputies and troopers will be stopping and ticketing those they catch texting or using their devices illegally while driving. The press release stated police are not trying to rack up citations but rather trying to save lives.
According to ODOT, distract drivers in Oregon between 2014-18 caused 13,603 crashes resulting in 20,992 injuries and 137 fatalities.
Distractions such as texting, talking on a cellphone, using a navigation system or eating can endanger you, your passengers and others on the road. Approximately eight people die each day as a result of distracted driving, according to La Grande police, and in 2019 nearly 1 in 10 fatal crashes in the United States were reported as distraction-affected.
Texting is perhaps the most common cause of distracted driving. According to the Transportation Safety section of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, at 55 mph, sending or reading a text “is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.”