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Scofflaws abound on local freeways: Police make 452 stops in five hours

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 30th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

traffic on i-5 -1
Many law-breakers among them.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just how much do people break the law when they drive on local freeways? A lot.

This fact is usually hidden from public eye for one main reason: Local law enforcement agencies simply don't have the human resources to stop all the people who break the law. They are underfunded and understaffed. Dangerous driving and blatant disregard for Oregon traffic law is so common that police officers are forced to stop only the most egregious violators.

It's only when law enforcement agencies do targeted enforcement missions that the full picture of lawlessness emerges.

Case in point: In a five-hour period yesterday, during a "safety detail" coordinated by the Washington County Sheriff's Office, a whopping 452 people were pulled over. That's over 90 stops per hour. Of those stops, 298 resulted in citations. While this safety detail was focused specifically on the Oregon law requiring people to move over for stopped emergency vehicles, the officers had their hands full with other violations.

The enforcement action was performed with over 50 officers from nine different agencies (including the Portland Police Bureau). They patrolled I-5, I-205, and Highway 26. Here are the stats as per a statement released today by the Washington County Sheriff's Office:

  • 452 traffic stops between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. January 29th
  • 104 citations were issued for failing to maintain a safe distance from emergency vehicles
  • 194 additional citations issued for dangerous driving behavior including speeding, following too close, and using a mobile communication device
  • two arrests, one for an outstanding warrant and another for driving while criminally suspended
  • Seven commercial motor vehicle inspections were completed, resulting in three trucks removed from service for safety reasons

Arrests?! Dangerous trucks?! Nearly 200 people driving dangerously?! It's no wonder that there's so much carnage on our freeways and roads each and every day.

The shocking thing to me isn't that this law-breaking is going on, it's that more people aren't shocked about it. In local transportation advocacy and policy circles, I'm constantly hearing about "bike safety" this and "bike safety" that; yet we never hear about "car safety" even though so much automobile carnage and dangerous driving behavior is happening all around us every hour of every day.

I post this information on the front of BikePortland not only because the amount of law-breaking uncovered here deserves more attention; but also because we need a record of where real safety issues exist in our transportation system. This should help inform our ongoing debates about enforcement and the utter lack of impact traffic laws have (by themselves, without enforcement) on the behavior of road users.

I'd love to know what you think. Do these numbers surprise you? How should they — if at all — inform policy and advocacy strategy?

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Comments
  • Patrick January 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Want to really piss drivers off?-- dirve the speed limit on the freeway.

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    • Panda January 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Ha! In fact, try driving the speed limit on Interstate Ave! I have been tailgated, flashed by headlights, honked at and screamed at. There a ton of people on the road who (wrongly) believe they are super skilled drivers AND deserve to go 10 mph over the posted speed. And the police to little to correct them

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      • Rob Chapman January 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

        I'm with you Panda. I would love to see a traffic sting on Interstate. It's scary enough as it is without the aggressive drivers.

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      • Adam H. January 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm

        And people think people who ride bikes are entitled…

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      • Adam January 30, 2014 at 6:59 pm

        Time for my favorite bumber sticker - "Keep tailgating - I'm just re-loading!!"

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        • AndyC of Linnton January 31, 2014 at 11:35 am

          This is the inspiration for my bumper sticker idea:
          "Quit honking, I'm trying to text!"

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    • gutterbunnybikes January 30, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      I seldom go above the posted speed limit (large truck with 1+ton of gear so I do sometimes get a little fast on the big downhills).

      Yeah. I get honked at and flipped off, but I don't care. It's about safety.

      Not many know that for every MPH that you go over 55 you double the odds that a collision is a fatal one. MInd you those numbers act like cumilitive interest rates, so if at 55 MPH you have a 1% chance of the collision being fatal, at 60 it'd be a 32% chance.

      Now the odds of the accident being fatal at 55 is lower than 1%, but you get the idea. Once it breaks the 1% chance, it only 7 - 8 MPH more and it's nearly a sure to be a fatal accident. (these stats are from a defensive driving course I had to take when I drove for living - I wish I could give a better source...but it was 15 years ago.)

      I drive 50 MPH (the speed limit) of 5 through the Terwilliger Curves and am always stunned on how fast even the middle lane drivers pass me.

      Though the street I find to be the worse is SE Hawthorn. It's 25 MPH all the way from the bridge to Mount Tabor, and cars always zip by - even in the 30th-39th stretch with all the pedistrian traffic. I'm surprised there aren't more collisions along here.

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      • davemess January 31, 2014 at 12:09 pm

        That section of Hawthorne is one of the worst in Portland hands down. It's bad for bikes pedestrians AND autos. I feel horrible driving through there. I still don't understand why the city won't push for a road diet and/or remove some on street parking.

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        • Adron @ Transit Sleuth February 2, 2014 at 12:42 am

          I wouldn't doubt if the city has. Probably a LOT of resistance to it with some of the businesses and entrenched interests that gotta "drive to their burbs". Not sure why they use Hawthorne to do that, it seems like it'd be the least efficient way to get there ever.

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        • spare_wheel February 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          take the lane.

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      • Christopher Sanderson January 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

        I feel the same way about the SE Belmont and SE Cesar Chavez intersection. I have in my driveway, trying to pull out, and I watch car after car after car after car zip east to west and west to east above the posted speed limit. Needless to say I have witnessed two accidents at the intersection at random occasions. I have seen plenty of debris in the intersection from other accidents that I have not been around to witness. I have posted tweets to the police department, asking for better speed enforcement, but I never see cops patrolling there.

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      • was carless January 31, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        When I lived on SE 28th, it was signed for 30 mph. SE Belmont also has a 30 mph limit. Many of Portland's main streets have speeds posted way too high.

        According to the DMV driver's manual, commercial zones are supposed to be 20 mph, and residential 25, so I really don't understand why Portland's speed limits are higher than in the podunk town that I grew up in.

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        • davemess February 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

          Why do you feel 30mph is too high? For an arterial/collector street, I don't think that is unreasonable. It's not so fast that cars can't quickly stop if needed. The real key is making sure people only drive 30, and that is the rub in all of this.

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  • Brian January 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Hopefully someone wiser than me can answer this question-why can't there be more Traffic Police? It seems that they could easily earn their salary by just policing traffic. Does the paperwork and time in court for each ticket prevent them from earning their salary? Are they required by law to take other emergency calls, thereby lessening their time to earn their salary?

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    • Jimmy January 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      The traffic unit of PPB does not take any emergency calls, though they do show up to relieve patrol officers that perform DUI stops. The traffic unit is where nearly all of the highest paid officers work. The desirability of this unity is due to a combination of the relative safety and the very high amount of court time (for people that challenge their citations). If an officer has to come in outside of their scheduled shift it is a guaranteed 4 hours of overtime. So officers working afternoons (4p-2a) in traffic will get mind boggling amounts of overtime pay ($150k is not unheard of). Because it is so desirable you gotta have like 20 years on to realistically have a shot at getting a position, which in turns makes the unit even more expensive.

      Another thing to keep in mind: Every time someone challenges their $200 ticket so they can get the fine reduced to $100, they are likely costing the city $250 just for the officer to show up at court. These 450 citations that were issued yesterday will almost certainly result in a net loss to taxpayers.

      Source: spouse is a PPB officer

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      • Brian January 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

        Thanks for the reply.

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      • JV January 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        Thanks for these insights, and many of your points indicate what is wrong with the system as it stands. The positions on the force of greatest safety are highly compensated and can be gamed for overtime. The whole point of this enforcement action is self-serving (making it safer for for police officers who have people pulled over) while the most needed aspects (community-based policing) are neglected. And freeway accidents are decreasing while pedestrian deaths are increasing. Let's focus enforcement actions where it will actually have a meaningful outcome, not just the lowest risk/highest reward.

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      • gutterbunnybikes January 30, 2014 at 7:54 pm

        Then we need to raise the cost of infractions. Triple them...1/3 for the cost of the police officer, 1/3 for the courts, and 1/3 for street and safety improvements.

        Sure would beat a gas tax, or a special $25 property tax.

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        • JAT in Seattle January 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

          ...or we need to lessen the cost of infractions so people feel less inclined to fight them... right? Logic won't help us here, only our passions (per David Hume) can control our actions.

          I actually would be in favor of lessening fines if it led to a higher ticketing rate - I think (no facts here, just my supposition) that the dominance of car culture leads to fines being written down routinely, which tends to encourage people to go fight them, whereas (again no facts) the shock tho the system of being pulled over has a lessening effect on future poor behavior, a magistrate writing downa fine is like a vindication of poor behavior.

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        • Middle of the road guy January 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

          I agree....and let's make sure to do the same things for cyclists. I see at least 3 dozen infractions a day at my intersection.

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          • El Biciclero February 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm

            ...Yeah, and for pedestrians, too! $270 for jaywalking. We also need to start fining ne'er-do-wells who carelessly bump into people on the sidewalk--it could cause the victims to spill their hot coffee and sustain a real injury. Or, it could cause a victim to drop their expensive smartphone, resulting in property damage.

            The fine for "Bumping into a fellow pedestrian resulting in minor scald injury" should be at least $100, tripled to $300; "Bumping into a fellow pedestrian resulting in property damage" should be the same, plus the cost to replace the damaged item. That will straighten out those careless walkers. Oh, and don't forget about "Distracted Walking" while staring at portable devices. That should be made an infraction as well. I'd say about $50, tripled, ought to be $150. If you really have to check your email or send a txt, find a park bench and park it!

            Fair is fair, after all.

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        • JV January 31, 2014 at 3:23 pm

          Or we could do what they do in some European countries. Traffic fines that involve gross safety violations are based on a minimum fine or a percentage of the violator’s annual income, whichever is greater. Only then does it really become a disincentive for reckless driving.

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          • wsbob February 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

            JV
            Or we could do what they do in some European countries. Traffic fines that involve gross safety violations are based on a minimum fine or a percentage of the violator’s annual income, whichever is greater. Only then does it really become a disincentive for reckless driving.
            Recommended 4

            Make traffic fine amounts generally progressive, based upon income amount. Establish a strongly deterrent base fine amount, and go up from that point.

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            • annefi February 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

              Thus, the higher your income the more disincentive to ride recklessly and, inversely, the lower your income the more incentive to be a scofflaw. Sorry, wsbob, your comments are usually spot on but this idea is counterproductive.

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              • wsbob February 5, 2014 at 12:54 am

                "Thus, the higher your income the more disincentive to ride recklessly and, inversely, the lower your income the more incentive to be a scofflaw. " annefi

                As a means of encouraging more consistent compliance with traffic regulations, a fine amount that may not be much of a disincentive to someone with a relatively high income, could be a huge disincentive to someone with a relatively low income.

                A $250 fine may not be much of a disincentive to people with a yearly income of $50K, but it could be a very significant disincentive to someone with a yearly income of $15K.

                This is just an idea though, prompted by JV's comment, above. I've little idea of how well it could be made to work out, and how effective it could be in having people do a better job keeping their speed down, stopping for stop signs, etc .

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      • Adron @ Transit Sleuth February 2, 2014 at 12:46 am

        Sounds like we need to up those violations to a reasonable amount then and just start taking away drivers licenses. Let's say $450 dollar tickets are baseline, show up to court you get no more than $50 dollars reduced, and after 3 tickets you get your license removed for a year?

        I bet that'd change the way people behave after a few hard core enforcements. Give that a month or two to trickle through word of mouth - because you can bet people would be talking about $450 bucks as a baseline ticket price way more than the measly $250 or $150 price reduction.

        Whatever the case is, the driving privilege needs to seriously be put into check in a huge way. This could and would be a positive direction.

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    • Daniel L January 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Lots of reasons. One, it is unlikely that the tickets issued would come close to paying an officer's salary. Tickets that are challenged, even if they end up being paid, usually end up costing the city (or county or state) money. You also run into some dangerous civil rights territory when you have ticket quotas, or some more vague equivalent to get around calling them quotas. You want police to enforce laws in a fair and just way, not being pushed to find things to fine you for in order to pay for their job.

      The bigger issue though is that increased enforcement is almost never an actual solution to the problem. We could double or triple the number of traffic police and we'd only see some minor localized reductions in law breaking. You're likely also posing a huge financial burden on the people that can afford it the least without doing a lot to solve the problem.

      If you really want to change behavior you need to look at what is causing the behavior and address the issue there. In the case of dangerous driving the core issue is that people see driving as a right not a privilege. Our laws back them up on that too since it is tremendously difficult to lose your licence, and even if you have it suspended you can usually make a case that you need to drive to get to and from work and get an exception made for those routes and times and still drive even though a court has ruled that you're not really fit to drive. So people treat it very casually and they see anything that slows them down as infringing on their rights.

      So the solution is you need to make licences more difficult to obtain, more difficult to maintain, and easily revoked. For example requiring mandatory classroom and behind the wheel training time, and a refresher course every two years or so to maintain your license rather than the 10 years (or whatever it is, something like 50 years in Arizona) that licenses are currently issued for and all you need to do to renew them is maybe get a new photo taken. Then make almost any traffic infraction grounds for a suspension, even things like speeding or rolling a stop sign or failing to yield to a pedestrian. You don't really need any more enforcement at that point because the risk if you are caught is severe enough that people will take driving more seriously.

      All of that has to go hand in hand with giving people options other than driving like significantly increased transit options, actual good bicycle infrastructure, and safe pedestrian infrastructure otherwise, again, you end up mostly being a burden on the people that can least afford it. The wealthy have lots of ways to get around without driving. The poor often do not, especially when lower income sections of town are the most lacking in infrastructure.

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      • Brian January 31, 2014 at 8:53 am

        Well said. Thanks.

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      • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 9:05 am

        Are you aware that only about half of a citation collected comes to the City? the rest goes to the court system, something the City of Portland is not allowed to have, so Multnomah County gets it. If you want less reduction of citations, you need to work with electeds. the legislature can remove discretion, and has in the past, and judges that guide policy are also elected.

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      • Kenji January 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        I agree in concept but I think a better idea would be to 1. change our infrastructure to encourage a decrease in speed. 2. work to change culture and attitude (and one tool in that bag is enforcement.) 3. encourage technology that takes drivers out of the equation.

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        • Kenji January 31, 2014 at 12:11 pm

          ergh... responded to wrong message. UGH!

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    • Adam January 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      I'm confused by this too. Oregon has no money. There are millions of citizens flouting the basic laws of our roadways daily. Fine the lot of them. Speed cameras and red-light cameras at every major intersection. Regular police patrols. We'd have enough money by the end of the year (no, month) to fund our public school system ten times over.

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      • grumpcyclist January 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

        Remember you said this during the next Ladd's Edition stop sign enforcement action.

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        • Adam January 31, 2014 at 10:59 am

          I said at at every *major* intersection. I'm sorry, but Ladd Circle is not a "major intersection". 82nd & Powell is. Please read people's posts thoroughly before posting comments!

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          • davemess January 31, 2014 at 12:11 pm

            it's one of the most "major" intersection for bikes.

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            • 9watts January 31, 2014 at 8:58 pm

              It is, and yet in contrast to the umpteen major intersections in this town that are major for that other mode, we haven't seen a single death (or even injury to my knowledge) at the Ladd's Circle location from someone biking in ways that irk the PPB. Or am I mistaken?

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            • wsbob February 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm

              Apparently so, many people that bike having re-purposed streets in that neighborhood for their self serving few seconds of time and energy saved by not stopping at stop signs in the neighborhood.

              That's a contemptible display of disrespect for neighborhood livability, and safety as well, for which they definitely should be cited and fined for.

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  • JL January 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    A cop on the news said they target drivers going the speed limit because those are the people with marijuana…

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  • Brad January 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    @BikePortland While the public constantly hears about "bike safety", those enforcement stats reveal where the real danger lies.

    YES! I too am outraged by all of the pedestrians and bike riders being killed on local freeways each year in the Portland area.

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    • BURR January 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Yeah, but just think what they'd find if they ever even bothered to patrol the local arterials like SE Hawthorne, et. al.

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      • Sho January 30, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        Likely a similar ratio of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists breaking the law. Well maybe not pedestrians as high in ratio. They all need to be enforced but as stated that would require many more police who are currently understaffed. The easiest way to help solve this would be not break the law yourself no matter your mode of transportation. Some cities also have it set up differently to where local pd do not regularly patrol the highway, only troopers. Take chicago for instance, you can hardly walk a block without seeing a cop but barely ever do on the highway since the troopers are spread thin. They also still dont have enough police cause the officer usually has much higher priority calls to get to than someone not using their turn signal.

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        • Ryan Good January 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm

          Yeah, we better enforce pedestrian laws because those pedestrians are really dangerous!

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        • 9watts January 31, 2014 at 9:01 pm

          ridiculous attempt at equivalency.

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    • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Yeah, where were the 'carnage' statistics? Like 30k people die in traffic collisions each year in the US, about one 737 airplane full a day. That would be sensational, except it would still be inaccurate. For one, those crashes are spread out over 50 states, and most don't happen on limited access freeways. speed does not equal probability of a crash.

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  • Resopmok January 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    In light of his sorting news, we almost definitely need to focus on another ladd's addition sting. Lots of dangerous activity there!! /sarcasm

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    • Sho January 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      I wonder what the percentage of people driving were pulled over here as compared to those stopped during the ladds enforcement on bikes? Surprisly pretty close I bet considering thousands of vehicles would have traveled these roadways in an hour. So maybe another ladds enforcemnt should be in effect as the significant majority of people I bike around on my way to and from work through there have not seemed it meant a thing to stop even if a pedestrian is there.

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      • rider January 31, 2014 at 12:16 pm

        I witnessed a car literally screeching around the circle as he had gotten so frustrated passing all the slow moving cyclists prior to the stop sign (I had also witnessed him passing aggressively on Ladd prior to the stop sign). The traffic cop had a bicyclist pulled over and rather than prioritizing the person clearly acting in a dangerous and illegal manner the cop simply yelled at the car to slow down. It took every ounce of my restraint to not chew the cop a new one.

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      • 9watts January 31, 2014 at 9:05 pm

        "So maybe another ladds enforcemnt should be in effect as the significant majority of people I bike around on my way to and from work through there have not seemed it meant a thing to stop even if a pedestrian is there."

        I'm not following your logic, Sho.
        First off, I think people biking should be as mindful of how they act around people walking as they expect to be treated by people driving. But, having said that, it would be nuts to direct our always strapped law enforcement to expend their energies and our tax dollars in Ladd's when there are real dangers out there that their job description allows them to focus on which would (perhaps start to) make us all a little safer.

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  • Allan January 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I think the problem I have with this sort of thing is that the cops should be doing traffic enforcement on major arterials, not freeways. The freeways are comparably safe because there aren't any obstacles, lights, or people in the way so mistakes are more forgivable. However that also makes it much easier to do enforcement on the freeways.

    The cops seem to work where it is easiest, not where it will have the greatest safety effect

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  • peejay January 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    If only it were legal to automate this process, with something like, hmmmmm…cameras? They could be triggered by radar, take a picture of the driver and the plate, and mail the ticket. Actually, who cares about the driver. If you lend your car to someone who speeds, pay up, and collect the money from your friend later. Gosh, nobody would be opposed, certainly not overworked police officers, would they?

    /demisarcasm

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    • Reza January 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      I want CCTV cameras taking pictures of transit mall and MAX lane violators in Downtown. Not a day goes by without seeing drivers breaking that law either out of sheer ignorance or brazen disrespect of the law, including cops without their emergency lights on.

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      • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 9:09 am

        Tell your legislators.

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      • Spiffy January 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

        the transit mall has signs at every intersection telling you what's allowed...

        with the max lanes you can go a few blocks before you see a sign stating that the lane is for the train only...

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    • Barton January 31, 2014 at 9:08 am

      They set all this up in Minneapolis maybe 10-15 years ago? It paid for itself within the firs three months. THEN someone got the bright idea that the whole process of red-light cameras went against our state constitution, and they were right. So the city paid back all the fines received, plus interest and those expensive red-light cameras (that were working and solving a problem!!!) just sit there doing nothing.

      what was illegal? you couldn't prove who was driving, they said. So it was the car getting the ticket in essence and not the driver. Bollocks, I say. I know who is driving my car, and if I don't then its stolen and we've got red-light camera proof of who is behind the wheel.

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      • Harald January 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm

        In Germany it works this way: If you contest the automated ticket with the argument "I wasn't driving," first they'll compare your picture with the one taken by the enforcement cam. If that turns out inconclusive and you insist on not paying the fine you can indeed get away with it. However, from now on you're obligated to keep a driver log in your car, documenting who is driving when. So no excuses the second time around. Seems like a sensible system to me.

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        • 9watts January 31, 2014 at 9:08 pm

          A milder version exists here I am told. The letter you, as the driver to whom the red-light-running car belongs, notes that if you were not driving you don't need to pay the ticket. I know someone whose wife was driving the car at the time in question (you can see her in the photo) and so he answered the question narrowly and declined to pay the hefty fine. End of story.

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  • Kevin Wagoner January 30, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for covering this. I wish we would automate enforcement. I'm tired of calling PDXsafe and not getting any results on my street.

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  • noah January 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    So many full-time auto drivers I know have a blind spot (heh?) to their own infractions, even while they focus on cyclist wrongdoing with laserlike intensity.

    They don't want to hear any pathetic *excuses* for cyclists' rolling through red lights, or for their making abrupt moves, or for the crime of riding down a busy thoroughfare when there's a designated bike route a few blocks away.

    Then try to call out their speeding, their making posted-illegal turns, their crossing solid lines into the next lane -- the kind of stuff you see several times a MINUTE on the freeway, and at spots like 99th & Halsey and 12th & Montgomery, and on the entire transit mall -- and watch the *justifications* fly. The government sets the speed limits too low! The rules at this intersection are confusing! I'm too busy and important a person to be forced to go around the block! (I'm paraphrasing in that last one.)

    Please. It's the kind of rage one always sees, a rage dumbly guised in the language of right and wrong, when a member of privileged group is mad about losing some of their unearned advantage.

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    • Spiffy January 31, 2014 at 10:29 am

      I thought I was an awesome driver until I stopped driving. Then I saw the effects of how I used to drive around those kinds of drivers. Now all I see when I'm out on the road is other people breaking the law driving badly. I wish I could stop noticing it because it does nothing for my faith in humanity.

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      • El Biciclero January 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

        It is unfortunate; I constantly just see myself swimming in a sea of dumb-asses--of which I am one occasionally...

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      • Middle of the road guy January 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        everyone on this board is an expert cyclist. Or so they think.

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  • q`Tzal January 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I wonder how the O and their comments thread will blame this on cyclists.

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    • Spiffy January 31, 2014 at 9:34 am

      the O can't publish this sting news, it would offend their readers...

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      • q`Tzal January 31, 2014 at 10:09 am

        The word isn't offend, it's disturb.
        Certainly there would be the identical attitude amongst drivers that break the law that exists amongst cyclists that run red lights; these people will always be angry about something.
        But the majority with a modicum of self reflection would be distributed to be aware just how much of an illusion their safety in a rolling metal cage really is.

        Hmmm... that's not a bad idea. Public service commercials highlighting the perspective of a person inside a car driving with little PopUp Video icons displaying what all the drivers around them are doing illegally. Then pull the camera back to show our 1st person driver assumed to be a perfect law abiding driver to themselves be doing something innocent like reaching over to passenger seat to grab something, the car swerves, screen goes black and horrible crashing sounds. Words on screen: "All it takes is one little mistake to end up a statistic. Obey the law and drive safely."

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  • Peter James January 30, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I'd love to know exactly how many citations were issued for using a cell phone while driving. Since I started commuting daily by bike, I've had more close calls with drivers doing amazingly stupid and dangerous things while they were talking on a cell phone than anything else. The really scary thing is how many of these people driving while using a cell phone had no idea they even did anything wrong because they are so oblivious to anything but their conversation. I really hope law enforcement starts to take this issue more seriously and go after what I see as extremely dangerous driver behavior.

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    • GlowBoy January 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      I'm no longer even (in a relative sense) that worried about drivers talking on their cellphones.

      I mean yes they're relatively dangerous and often tuned-out, sometimes failing to see things happening right in front of their eyes, but the ones I'm really worried about are the ones looking at their cellphones.

      Incredibly, the fine for texting while driving is the same as for talking on a handheld phone. And the fine for talking on a hands-free phone is zero. Because it's legal - even though the evidence is now overwhelming that handsfree phoning and driving isn't substantially safer than handheld phoning and driving.

      Does that make any sense? No. Does it align with what the public is willing to put up with? Yes. Yes, it does.

      Which brings us to speeding enforcement ... the reason we don't have more enforcement is that the public won't currently put up with it. If "police make 452 stops in five hours" were a daily occurrence, the screams of outrage would be heard round the world. The only way we're going to make the police get more serious about enforcement is if we can change public attitudes to demand it.

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    • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Peter, you should stop driving on the freeway ;-)

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    • Ryan Good January 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      They won't.

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  • Pat Franz January 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Any idea what % of vehicles the number stopped represents?

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  • Louee January 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I've been working in traffic courts for nearly 14 years. I can tell you that every driver (including myself & every one of the readers of this blog) is not as good a driver as they think they are. You would not believe the rationalizations people come up with.

    Yesterday, I helped a man in his mid 60's who received a cite on New Year's Day for going 60mph in a 25mph work zone. He truly saw nothing wrong with his actions. He insisted that since there were no workers present, the officer was wrong to cite him. I pointed out that the work zone had temporary lane markings, narrower lanes and equipment right next to the lanes, whether there were workers present or not. He ended up pleading not guilty.

    Unfortunately, the police officer who issued the cite has been practically letting people off the hook in this work zone if they dispute the charge. I can almost bet the outcome will be the officer removing the work zone designation & amending the cite from an "A" violation down to a "C" violation. The driver's fine will likely drop from $870 to $160.

    One of my biggest irritations is how police officers back down on cites after they've been issued. One particularly disgusting situation involved a man who killed a pedestrian IN A CROSSWALK, claiming he couldn't see the man due to sun glare. He faced a potential $12,500 fine for Careless Driving w/Death of a Vulnerable User. At trial, the officer amended the cite to remove the accident & death enhancements & the guy walked away paying $330 total for the Careless & one other charge he was convicted. (I'm sorry, I can't recall the second charge, I was so aghast at the result of the Careless charge.)

    The system is horribly broken & there are days I am ashamed to be a part of it.

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    • John January 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

      If there are no workers there, what's wrong with "shooting the gap" between cones and swerves, I've found the 45 mph can safely be taken at 60 plus. Stay outa my way.

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      • Greg January 31, 2014 at 9:30 pm

        Can you let me know you daily commute so I can avoid it?

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      • El Biciclero February 4, 2014 at 9:39 am

        Heh. You sound like a kid I went to high school with. He always wondered why I didn't drive faster if I "knew the road". I told him that the road is one thing, what might suddenly appear on it around the next bend is another.

        I'm glad you can be so confident that there aren't any workers present in a work zone. I've driven through a work zone before and seen workers step out around large pieces of equipment, I've come over a rise to find my lane coned off, any number of things that would not be well-adjusted-to at friggin' 60mph.

        I hope your kidding, Mr. Outa My Way.

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    • Christopher Sanderson January 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Sounds like reform with the legal system would help.

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    • wsbob February 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

      "...One of my biggest irritations is how police officers back down on cites after they've been issued. ..." Louee

      Louee...why do think the officers are backing down from the cites after they've been issued?

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  • Dabby January 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I have said it many times before and I will say it now.
    Lack of enforcement and weak Policing are Portland's main problems.
    If we had actual effective law enforcement, we would have a lot less issues in many aspects of life.

    And I am sick and tired of the police using the " we don't have enough people to properly enforce the law". If you cannot do the job you are hired for, you should quit and get a job you can handle.

    So drop the donut, get off your ass, and write more tickets.
    More fines equals more money equals more police equals proper enforcement.

    I just wish they tried harder to actually "Protect and Serve", while collecting paychecks. The logo should "Watch and Kinda Care".

    Hold them accountable or let them go, so we can hire someone who does the "actual" job they are paid for.

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    • Ron January 31, 2014 at 11:42 am

      I agree completely. The apathy among the PPB is astounding. No accountability, plenty of excuses.

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    • davemess January 31, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Or just lack of police presence period. I am still astounded after living here for 3.5 years how few police I see out on a daily basis. My parents were visiting this last summer and my Dad said that it took him 5 days before he saw his first cop in Portland!

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    • Josh January 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Police staffing levels aren't set by the police department, they're set by the elected officials who write the budget, within the revenue limits accepted by the voters. If the police only have enough staffing to respond effectively to felony situations, you'll get minimal enforcement of non-felony violations.

      If the voters choose to underfund core government functions, the voters get what they pay for.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 1:04 am

      South Carolina State Troopers have an ingenious strategy: instead of spreading their manpower evenly across the state they travel in packs to create hidden observation posts while 6-12 police cars wait on an on ramp to intercept offenders and hand out citations.
      They do this in an area for 7-14 days then disappear to some other random location. The fun thing is that they almost always come back unannounced to duplicate the enforcement only more well hidden each successive follow up.
      They NEVER announce to the public when or where these enforcement crack downs will be and their willingness to be "the bad guys" hiding in wait means that drivers are much morw cautious because you half expect there to be a cop behind every blind spot.

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  • chasingbackon January 31, 2014 at 8:21 am

    the single most dangerous day to day traffic situation, by far, for cyclists and pedestrians is texting and driving, on local and arterial streets. Real change in the direction of VRU safety would include a fine around $2500 for first infraction and a revoked license in addition to doubling the fine for further infractions. This model should also be applied to driving while using a cell phone, dangerous driving and speeding.

    All the rest of this conversation will get us no where since changes will be incremental over time and basically negligible, while people continue to operate their motor vehicles with impunity.

    At this point in time, i cycle as if nobody sees me. You should also.

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  • spencer January 31, 2014 at 8:50 am

    ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. The most dangerous thing on our roads is ourselves, the majority "car driving" public. Start enforcing the damn laws already! NO PHONES, NO TAILGATING, and NO NEGLIGENCE! Just put the cameras up already.
    I get ~ one close call per evening when I ride home, due to speeding, people w/ phones, or just plain bad driving.

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    • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Tell it to the commisioner in charge of PPB.

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  • TOM January 31, 2014 at 9:09 am

    >>I'd love to know what you think. Do these numbers surprise you?

    YES. I'd have thought they'd be MUCH higher.

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    • El Biciclero January 31, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      It all depends on your definition of "speeding". If 10-over isn't considered an offense, then not surprising. Plus, there were only about 50 officers involved...

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  • Peter Michaelson January 31, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Could there not be roving moving violation non-police enforcers similar to parking patrol? No interaction with driver necessary. Much lower cost than police.

    Parking enforcement is self-funding I believe. Why not moving violation enforcement?

    Not to mention the aforementioned cameras, of course. DC has them now for crosswalk violations too. Imagine a city where drivers obey the laws - that would make Portland world famous. and therefore great for the economy.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate January 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

    What does this article have to do with cycling?

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    • spencer January 31, 2014 at 9:31 am

      everything. people who ride bikes are dodging car missiles as described in the article every single bike ride. there is no such thing as a "car accident", there are only NEGLIGENT VEHICLE OPERATORS

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    • SilkySlim January 31, 2014 at 9:38 am

      BikePortland is so much more than "The Cycling News." While their domain name hasn't change, their focus has expanded to cover just about "All Things Transportation." Probably the best reporting of such information in Portland, Oregon, and maybe even the US.

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  • Richard Masoner January 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

    In the San Francisco Bay Area we have a TV reporter with a popular "People Behaving Badly" series. He frequently does law enforcement ride alongs to illustrate just how routinely people break traffic laws.

    If you ever doubt motorists aren't at least as bad as cyclists in breaking traffic laws, his YouTube channel is good for hours of entertainment

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TVman1981

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  • Tom January 31, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I'm just gonna leave this here https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BeC43LGCUAAb3Ng.jpg:large

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  • John January 31, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Wow, everybody a do-goodder on here. I never go the speed limit, I'm 70 now, never had one accident. Doing 65 on a six lane super highway when it's safe to do 80 never made sense to me. why do you people all seem to want to go 55 or what ever, don't you have any place to go, or do you just enjoy trying to police the roads yourself? Me, yep, I'd just as soon move to someplace else that likes to travel than to sit behind someone in the fast lane doing the speed limit. You are the cause of accidents, making it so everyone has to go around you on the wrong side. They ought to make that right lane for bicycles only, then you all could ride bikes safely and stay out of the lanes for cars. You are in no hurry anyway.

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    • John January 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Texting and phones while driving, make it a DUI, no responsible driver can do those things and be 100% alert while driving!

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      • John January 31, 2014 at 9:59 am

        I see, many of you are on bicycles, surly you don't take the freeways? I do not speed on city streets, that's insane.

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    • Bill Walters January 31, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      So far you're doing an awesome job of refuting yourself, John. Keep it going and pretty quick you'll be within reason compared to your original comment.

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    • GlowBoy January 31, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Oh John John John ... I remember that I used to delude myself that speeding actually saved me enough time to matter. By going fast I felt like I was DOING SOMETHING to move my busy schedule along, and this rationalization also helps me feel more important. But this is merely emotional gymnastics, and it doesn't hold up to mathematical scrutiny.

      For one thing, on a typical freeway-involved trip across town you're still spending a lot of time dealing with slower roads, intersections, stoplights, on and offramps and other things that add time to the trip.

      For instance, my commute to Beaverton. If I drive the freeway to work, even with no traffic and going the 55mph speed limit on the freeway portion, I still only average 36mph over the entire trip (and in more typical conditions I average 20-25mph).

      If I go 65mph instead of 55mph on the freeway portion, I'm saving myself exactly ONE MINUTE AND TEN SECONDS. (And if I go 75mph, I'm an asshole).

      I'm pretty sure I waste a minute and ten seconds just sitting on the shitter every day, and I probably waste that much time in countless other ways too. If my time were really that valuable I'd find a better way to save it than by wasting so much fuel and endangering everyone else. Now I've got as busy a life as anybody, with a demanding career, a long commute, a wife and two kids at home, doing all our own scratch cooking daily, and lots of extracurricular activities. Even with all that, I can spare 2:20 out of 1,440 minutes in the day. Especially since I'm old enough to have observed the cumulative effect of repeated exposure to low-probability danger. I've seen plenty of people's numbers come up.

      Most people seem to think their business is so important that they can't spare those extra two minutes it would take to go the speed limit. Well, get over yourself. You're not that important. No one is. Under the scrutiny of reason, the rationale for speeding just doesn't hold up, at least for shorter distance trips. (which also applies to the BS speed-differential logic that speeders always try to levy against law-abiding drivers, which I'm not even going to dignify with a detailed response).

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      • John February 1, 2014 at 3:10 am

        Sir, I really like you. You are a gentleman, rare these days. You are right of course, but I do enjoy driving immensely and in this country speeding is not enforced too much. I have been pulled over maybe three times in my life, only got a ticket once, on a lonely stretch of Colorado highway and I was so tired I didn't pay attention to a cop in front of me until his lights came on. In my day, most trips averaged 60MPH which meant I was going 90 to get the average including towns etc. Those days are over for me. Bicycles, here in the Midwest, I have never seen any on the roads until recently. At my age, I am slowing down considerably, but I have a question, 1 AM, sitting at a traffic light, no cars in sight, and I can see several blocks away, do I wait for the light or do I go ahead and proceed? It always seemed to me the height of insanity to let a mechanical device hold me for no reason, no one around, and me wanting to get home. I do not drink, never have nor never intend to. The law is for safety reasons, if I'm safe, that satisfies the law. Of course if a cop ever sees me he may disagree, and he trumps my rights.
        Anyway, Thanks for being civil to my uncivilized behavior. I do not speed around emergency vehicles, people stopped on the roadway, animals, bicycles, children, low visibility, slick roads, workers or other uncontrollable circumstances. I do not tailgate, except in bumper to bumper traffic going 80 where we all depend on everybody to keep going, that's scary. The alternative is to go the speed limit and cause all those drivers to hit their brakes, swerve, lose momentum and I become a very dangerous driver on the freeway. Multiple car pileups? Well, there are tornados, fires, mishaps, at least I wear seat belts now.

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    • GlowBoy January 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      "You are in no hurry anyway."

      Wrong. I bike because I AM in a hurry. I actually can be kind of Type-A about my time (although in a separate response I discuss the mathematical delusion that speeding saves enough time to justify itself). One thing I will not abide is the waste of time it is to DRIVE to the gym and spend a bunch of time on a stationary bike going nowhere (not to mention the amount of time I often spend in my car going nowhere, staring at the taillights in front of me).

      One reason I bike is because it is multitasking: I'm exercising and getting where I'm going at the same time. I spend considerably LESS time biking to work than I would spend driving to work AND working out in the gym.

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      • John February 1, 2014 at 3:21 am

        I can see your point, you must live in areas I have never been to, my jobs have been over 30-40 minutes commute in cars, I now live 8 miles to the nearest shopping, but I like to go 25 miles on in to Walmart.
        I am considering a Elio as a means of transportation, that will slow me down a lot!
        I withdraw my comment about not being in a hurry, sorry, Sir. You made your point well.

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  • TOM January 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

    A couple of years back my wife got a photo ticket for "exceeding posted speed in a school zone" (which she didn't even know was there - 32 in a 25 zone on a 30 mph marked street) . Since then she been slowing to the posted speed in that area.

    Drivers behind her treat that law abiding behavior like Al Qaeda terrorism. They honk, flash headlights and yell at her for doing the CORRECT thing.

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    • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

      School Zones in Portland are 20 mph.

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    • CaptainKarma January 31, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      The trick is to ENJOY it, seeing it as your civic duty. I know I do.

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  • Scott H January 31, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Those numbers don't surprise me. Even though roadway deaths have been on the decline thanks to safety features in cars, the number of people killed on US roadways is mind numbingly staggering. On average in 2011, 89 people were killed on the roadways of the U.S. each day. The fact that this is somehow acceptable says a lot about our society, people would rather die ( literally ) than be forced to drive carefully.

    I say this isn't acceptable. Transportation officials need to grow some balls and install speed cameras.

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    • paikikala January 31, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Except 'transportation officials' don't make laws. The legislature dictates both the number of red light cameras and how long a photo radar van can be in any one place.

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    • Ron January 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

      We keep calling them accidents when the vast marjority of crashes are caused by some form of negligence. So when people hear that there was an "accident", no one was at fault. It just happened. Yes, they ran over the little orphans in the crosswalk while driving 90 and texting. But it was an accident.

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  • johnny January 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Panda
    Ha! In fact, try driving the speed limit on Interstate Ave! I have been tailgated, flashed by headlights, honked at and screamed at. There a ton of people on the road who (wrongly) believe they are super skilled drivers AND deserve to go 10 mph over the posted speed. And the police to little to correct them
    Recommended 25

    Just 10mph over the speed limit?

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  • johnny January 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    just for grins here is a funny one for everybody. Yesterday I am riding along in the bike lane just minding my own business and enjoying what I anticipated would be a non-stress bicycle ride. But, just a few minutes later, looking in my mirror I can see a car pulling into the bike lane and moving along at a good clip while trying to get around traffic and then they are closing in on me and at that point I could see they were going to hit me and not stop so I had to dash off the bike lane, over the curb and onto the grass and here is the kicker....When I turned my head to look at the car as it went blasting by, the car driver had the audacity to give me a dirty look for being in the way.

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    • 9watts January 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      someone posted a hilarious photo here the other day showing the wide clear road with AUTOMOTIVE MASTER RACE written over that part, and DIRTY BICYCLE PEASANT or something to that effect written over the bumpy, poorly maintained bike lane off to the right. That graphic came to mind reading your little hair-raising story.

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    • q`Tzal February 1, 2014 at 7:26 am

      When that happens to me I ditch the bike... in the lane, while I get out of the way.
      So far not a single juvenile, selfish road warrior wannabe has decided that they were willing to scratch their paint job over my bike.
      This maneuver is basically vindictive: either
      () the driver stops dead in his tracks while you slowly walk back in to the bike lane, pick up, dust off, interact with the law breaker and leave slowly
      Or
      () the driver runs over your bike but you survive. Unless they are driving a big lifted truck they'll have to stop. Regardless there will be slower traffic they rushed past that are perfectly stunned witnesses who, with a little schadenfreude, will be more than happy to penalize the person who thought they could "cut in line".

      For myself this has happened 3 or 4 times and each time it has been an over-dramatic production being terrified and agast at what happened despite the fact that I could see that it was about to happen. One time, as I rode away way too slowly, I managed to lead the offender directly in to a police officer :D that was fun :D

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      • mh February 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

        If only I could get off my bike that fast.

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  • Josh January 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Everyone loves to point to the Dutch and Copenhagen for bicycle safety, but their bicycle safety is about so much more than sidepaths -- the best bicycle safety program is rigorous licensing and meaningful enforcement for motorists. Cyclists just happen to be among the millions maimed and killed by motorists... another 9/11 worth of Americans killed every month, where's the outrage?

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    • q`Tzal February 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

      It does help that there is a viable public transportation system in place for those that don't meet their standards for operating a motor vehicle or havr had that privilege revoked.
      Too often here in the States you hear the offending driver's defense attorney successfully using a "hardship" defense to allow vehicular homicide commiters to get off with little more than a fine.

      And with our anemic, underfunded, underdeveloped or often nonexistent public transportation system the reality is that if the offender is a parent or has other legal dependants that taking away the offender's license and/or vehicle puts undue punishment on the innocent family.

      My contention is that without a robust public transportation system the "Right To Drive" will be virtually an official right because to revoke the privilege punishes innocent people can in certain areas be a slow death sentence.

      Built that public transit system then pass a law that makes auto insurance policies pay for all damages, all EMS costs, all hazmat clean up costs, all street cleaning costs, all infrastructure repair incurred in every crash.
      Then let "The Almighty Market" solve the problem of idi0t drivers.

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  • Ken Wetherell February 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

    An important argument against high freeway speeds is that it significantly increases fuel consumption. Aerodynamic drag starts taking a big toll on MPG at speeds over 55-60, regardless of vehicle type.

    If you drive --- and if you care about how much fuel you use -- here is a great little one-page website that explains this law of physics with a few charts and a mileage/speed calculator.

    http://www.mpgforspeed.com/

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  • wsbob February 1, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Kind of off-topic, but bikeportland readers believing that people that drive should be subject to more serious penalties for breaking certain laws, may be interested in a recent Oregonian story about a guy convicted of hit and run and loss of license for three years.

    The 9 yr old girl riding her bike was at fault, didn't suffer major injuries. Guy, who had no previous criminal record, also no insurance to drive, stopped, but shortly then, seeing the girl was being attended to, left the scene of the accident, which in part, led to his being convicted:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/01/hit-and-run_driver_who_struck.html

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    • El Biciclero February 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Note that he pleaded guilty to "Felony Hit-and-Run", not any of the debated (by the Grand Jury) assault charges. He may not have been at fault in the collision, but he also wasn't convicted as such. His offense was not "running over a 9-year-old", but "fleeing the scene of an 'accident'".

      Maybe you were pointing out (without saying so) the recent change in law that gets your license suspended for three years instead of just one for such cases...? If not, how does this story have anything to do with drivers facing more serious penalties?

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      • wsbob February 1, 2014 at 7:35 pm

        I said the story may be of interest to bikeportland readers believing that people that drive should be subject to more serious penalties for breaking certain laws...didn't post the comment to point out the recent change in law that gets your license suspended for three years instead of just one, though the Oregonian story makes mention of that.

        Mainly, I wondered what bikeportland readers, after reading more info about the incident offered in the O story..are thinking in terms of whether or not the sentence and penalty this guy received was appropriate for the mistakes he's reported to have made.

        I'd forgotten about the earlier bikeportland story about this collision...thanks Alan, for the link...read the story and comments over again. The O story gives a little better sense of what the person driving did, and failed to do, than did the earlier bikeportland story. It seems from the more recent story, if the person driving had just stuck around a little longer after the collision, he likely would have got off scot-free.

        In the comments section of the O story, writer Aimee Green explains what, according to the law, he was faulted for: http://oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/01/hit-and-run_driver_who_struck.html/post/2014-02-01/1391269968-923-494.html

        He stopped, but didn't provide reasonable assistance: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.705

        What he did after the collision, raises questions: Did he really stop his vehicle and get out, out of concern for, and to check on the welfare of the child? Or was his purpose for getting out, actually, just to get the bike out from under his truck so he could go on his way? If the bike hadn't got jammed under his truck, would he have stopped at all?

        The O story reports the judge having sized Brasky up rather favorably:

        "...You’re someone who just wants to work and take care of his family,” Albrecht said. “You obviously need to work on your judgment and your stress.” " oregonian

        Having read the two stories, I wonder whether bikeportland readers agree with the judge's evaluation of Brasky's character.

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    • Alan 1.0 February 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      BikePortland's article about Brasky is here. In addition to the 3 year suspension, (up from 1 year under old law) the judge slapped him with $675 restitution, 30 days in jail and 3 years probation.

      There are at least three items in Joe Rose' blog that might make the Monday Roundup. Besides Brasky, Oregonian columnist John Killen supports an Idaho Stop law, and, most alarming and significantly to me, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a driver who fell asleep, crossed the center line, and killed an oncoming motorcyclist. There's no retrial (double jeopardy) and the decision sets a legal precedent for the state accepting that excuse for a collision. I don't think that falling asleep should excuse anyone operating dangerous equipment, and that includes cars, but that's the law in Oregon, now.

      http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/01/court_says_sleep-driving_strik.html

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      • Adron @ Transit Sleuth February 2, 2014 at 12:49 am

        That's some seriously bullshit law right there. Absolutely disturbing. I won't even comment on the person that did it... just the law is sickening.

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        • wsbob February 3, 2014 at 10:47 am

          Nothing in your comment, indicates you've read the Oregonian story about the court judgment, or the laws the person was driving was charged with and convicted of(links to them included in the O story), and that were then reversed on appeal.

          The person driving wasn't "...excused..." by the appeals court judgment...she was acquitted, that is: pronounced not guilty of criminal charges. Why did that happen? Here's an excerpt from the O story:

          "...The judge also said she took into account Rigel’s recorded statements to the trooper. A transcript of the conversation quoted Rigel as saying, “I knew I should have pulled off.”

          But the Court of Appeals noted the transcript was wrong. Rigel actually said, “I knew I shouldn’t put it off” -- which the court found is significantly different than the transcript that the judge used. ..." aimee green/oregonian

          Once the court got straightened around on facts of the case, it found the person driving couldn't be found guilty under the provisions of the law. This of course, doesn't mean that the person hasn't done something wrong.

          Comments in the comment section of the O story are worth reading. They discuss the seriousness of what the driver did and failed to do, and a bit about what the law is capable of bringing about in the way of justice.

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          • spare_wheel February 5, 2014 at 8:03 am

            "Comments in the comment section of the O story are worth reading."

            now that is something you do not see on bp often.

            wsbob, your facile respect for "the law" frightens me. the law derives from the will of the people, not the clerks and bureaucrats who run our legal system.

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            • wsbob February 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

              "...the law derives from the will of the people, not the clerks and bureaucrats who run our legal system." spare_wheel

              It's by the will of the people that laws are written as they are. Sustaining the integrity of laws, requires that decisions to which they address, not be made by randomly departing from the language of a given law, just because someone would like a different outcome to a particular situation or case they're applied to.

              If you've got some serious thought to offer about the collision involving the person driving and the person riding the motorcycle that was struck, how the court decided on the the question of responsibility of the person driving...and also, the O's coverage of the story and people's comments to it in the story's comment section: Then present them. If it turns out instead that you're unable to rise above simply posting petty, snide remarks, I suppose that's no real surprise.

              Often, comment sections to the O stories have accumulated many, just plain mean, low level thinking remarks, and not a lot else. Some of the old cranks that used to leave a lot of comments of that type seem to have gone by the wayside. I read through the comments of this particular story, and thought the people writing showed a definite, serious interest in understanding what about Oregon's law could have Oregon court officials feel they must reverse the earlier decision. In a number of her own comments, the O's writer responded to their comments with additional info not covered in the story. Most of both, were a step up from the past.

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      • wsbob February 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

        "...Oregonian columnist John Killen supports an Idaho Stop law, ..." Alan 1.0

        Killen's opinion piece advising it's time for the Oregon Legislature to look again adopting the Idaho Stop, was interesting, in part, given that Killen, according to what he writes in the column, rides 200-300 miles a week. Also, that he's on the Oregonian's bike focused group of writers, the Ocyclers.

        He offers some of the familiar rationales for adopting the Idaho Stop, given by people favoring that exception to use of the road as regulated by stop signs. Had Killen written what he did, more from the perspective of someone that drives, his words may have meant something a majority of Oregonians could relate to, possibly helping to bring them to consider the existence of some merit in arguments favoring the Idaho Stop.

        He didn't do that. Sounds instead, like someone too tired from biking to adequately look for approaching traffic on cross-streets, before proceeding without stopping, past the stop sign.

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  • tyea February 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I don't drive much, but my does, and comes home once a week with a story about an encounter with a hazardous driver. Reduced availability of traffic police is a problem, but high fines could be a deterrent. There are not enough drivers out there that grasp and respect the physics of driving a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. I like the approach the police took. It would be preferred to see more continuous enforcement, but manpower is expensive these days, considering we can't even raise the gas tax to maintain the roads. Obeying traffic laws is serious business--especially in an urban environment. As my family responsibilites weigh on my shoulders my daily bicycle rides are initiating a kernel of fear that my loved ones will some day be without my support because I was seriously injured or killed by a hazardous driver.

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  • Trek 3900 February 1, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I wondered what all the cops were doing on Hwy 26 the other day. I approached them doing my usual 65-68 mph but slowed to 60ish after seeing them.

    If the police want to catch really dangerous drivers they need to be in unmarked cars. People are on their best behavior around a cop car. If they drove an unmarked car they'd have an inkling of what's really going on. If they drove a SMALL unmarked car they'd be so afraid they might not drive again.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Needs to be a beater car in poor repair, or at least looks that way.

      When all of the nation's cops broke their loyalty to the Crown Vic identifying unmarked cars became more difficult. That is until I noticed that police cars are always expertly maintained... right down to their headlights being perfectly aimed.
      It's amazing what a subtle effect it is but once you notice that most cars and especially trucks have low beams aimed high, wacky or partially inoperable it is very easy to ID an unmarked cop car. The drivers also have this annoying tendency to drive like professional race car drivers; sort of a precise aggression.

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  • Trek 3900 February 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    452 citations. That's maybe 1/10 of 1 percent of those who broke laws on those roads that day. I'd guess that MOST drivers are texting and using a phone, and most are speeding. You can see them every time you get in your car. You know they are doing it when they sit blocking traffic after the traffic light turns green (I give them 1 second to get moving, then beep at them).

    Thousands of runt-mobiles are on the streets disturbing the peace for everyone with their loud mufflers and I'll bet the cops NEVER give them tickets even though it is against the law per ORS 815.025. Why should they obey other laws if they can blatantly disregard this law? Clearly the cops do not care or are just lazy.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 12:48 am

      "runt-mobiles" : is that muscle cars tuned only for noise and drag racing or noisy motorcycles?

      I still despise unnecessarily loud vehicles but after a few uses of my AirZound I understood the "loud pipes save lives" slogan.

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  • Trek 3900 February 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Quote:
    "All of that has to go hand in hand with giving people options other than driving like significantly increased transit options, actual good bicycle infrastructure, and safe pedestrian infrastructure"

    Nice idea. Ain't going to happen.

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  • Trek 3900 February 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Wow. I mean WOW!! YEEEEEE HAAAAA!
    You car haters will love this:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-01/europe-set-mandate-remote-stopping-device-all-cars-police-use

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2014 at 12:43 am

      We have those here too, they're called "donut shops".

      You did mean police cars, right?
      :-P

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  • Jim February 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    These numbers don't surprise me, the road is a dangerous place.

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  • Dan February 3, 2014 at 8:30 am

    When my mom was teaching me to drive, she counseled me to drive 'with the flow of traffic', and said that cops won't give you a ticket on the highway unless you're going more than 11mph over the speed limit. I accepted that as truth, and have seen it play out that way in 25 years of driving.

    It was only as I starting biking heavily in the past few years, and having kids, that I became more acutely aware of the affects of speeding. I think most drivers are speeding because that's how they've learned to drive, it's culturally (and legally) acceptable, and it's just something they do automatically without really thinking about it. They need to be individually woken up out of that daze.

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