Local law enforcement agencies cracking down on distracted drivers

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore.— Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Medford Police Department are taking a stance against distracted drivers this week. Tuesday through Saturday, extra officers from JCSO and MPD will be out on the streets patrolling for distracted drivers.

“The reason I stopped you today is for using your cell phone while driving,” Sergeant Julie Denney, Jackson County Sheriffs Office, said while pulling over a driver on Crater Lake Highway.

It’s common traffic stop for Denney, and many other law enforcement agencies.

“A lot of times with the cell phone violations, even in a marked car, we will just pull up right next to somebody in traffic and they’ll be using their phone,” Sgt. Denney said.

Cell phones are not the only things that can cause a driver to stop paying attention to the road. Anything that can take your eyes, ears, and hands off the road can count as distracted driving.

“Whether it’s putting makeup on or eating food or wrestling with a dog that’s sitting on their lap,” Sgt. Denney said. “All of those things keep people from focusing on the roadway and they can cause crashes.”

With the holidays right around the corner, officers want to make sure drivers are safely getting back home to their families.

That’s the reason why JCSO and MPD are teaming up to remind drivers to stay focused on the roadways.

“We still have our regular shifts on duty, we just have extra people on the road that are specifically looking for the distracted driving violations,” Sgt. Denney said.

The agencies are able to put extra officers out on the roads because of grant funding. That funding allows officers to work overtime without having to cut into their regular shifts.

Officers will be focusing on the busier roads and specifically roads near shopping centers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,400 deaths occurred in the United States in 2016 due to distracted driving.

Sgt. Denney said they’re trying to prevent this from happening this season.

“Right now we’re getting into the holiday season, and because distracted driving leads to crashes, we would just really hate to see such a tragic thing happen right before the holidays,” Sgt. Denney said.

Sgt. Denney also said it’s easy to spot people who are either on their phones or simply not paying attention to the road. They can give out warnings or tickets, which aren’t cheap.

A distracted driving ticket can range anywhere between 1,000 dollars and 2,500 dollars.


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