Support BikePortland

Hillsboro PD’s novel distracted driving sting nets 50 citations in three hours

Posted by on October 4th, 2019 at 7:48 am

He’s not asking for spare change, he’s trying to change behavior (note the radio wire).
(Photo: Hillsboro PD)

Every city in America has a big problem when it comes to distracted driving. Most states have laws that outlaw it, but the challenge is enforcement.

In order for officers to cite someone, they must first see the behavior. That can be tough from inside a patrol car. So they’ve had to get creative. Oregon State Police unveiled an unmarked car as part of their enforcement strategy and we’ve reported on an undercover sting in Aloha (unincorporated Washington County) where an officer in plainclothes stood on a corner and radioed fellow officers when they saw an infraction.

Advertisement

But what the Hillsboro Police Department is unprecedented (as far as we know) in our region. They put an officer in civilian attire on the corner of SE 10th and Oak Street holding a hand-written cardboard sign that read, “I’m a cop put down your phone.” The method resulted in 60 stops in three hours that included 28 distracted driving citations and 22 citations for other violations.

While some people worried the signs themselves were distracting, the majority of commenters on HPD’s Facebook post about the enforcement action wholeheartedly supported the effort.

We still think the best way to enforce cell phone use would be an undercover officer riding a bicycle in the bike lane during rush-hour; but this is pretty cool too.

Nice work Hillsboro PD! Keep it up.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

33 Comments
  • Avatar
    aaron October 4, 2019 at 8:31 am

    PPB, please deputize me for bike patrol on Williams. I need to put my Airzound to work anyway.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • Avatar
      The Dude October 6, 2019 at 7:23 am

      ORS 153.058 so deputizes you.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    bikeninja October 4, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Lets see, all the cool bike stuff in Portland is closing down, Hillsboro has no campers, no e-scooters, clean streets and sidewalks, well maintained parks, more ethnic diversity, cheaper housing, some cool new separated cycle tracks , a long walking and cycling trail without dangerous lurkers and booby traps (rock creek trail) and now a crack down on distracted driving criminals. Makes one think.

    Recommended Thumb up 26

    • Avatar
      rick October 4, 2019 at 9:16 am

      TV Highway, an orphan highway from ODOT, is not clean.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Avatar
    JeffS October 4, 2019 at 8:54 am

    So, HILLSBORO police went out into the county to mess with people. That seems about right.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      Chris I October 4, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Enforcing the law is “messing with people”?

      Recommended Thumb up 41

    • Avatar
      Middle of The Road Guy October 4, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Doing nothing seems like a much better option?

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Avatar
      MR October 4, 2019 at 9:05 am

      “Oregon State Police unveiled an unmarked car as part of their enforcement strategy….”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Wylie October 4, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Burning hot take from bikeportland user JEFFS. Let’s be sure to always set aside the fact that dangerous driving is straight-up destroying our freedom to travel

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Avatar
      bikeninja October 4, 2019 at 9:51 am

      SE 10th and Oak is in downtown Hillsboro, not out in the county somewhere.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Avatar
      Joe kurmaskie October 4, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Jeff 10th and oak is Hillsboro proper not “going out in the county “ messing with people. Besides, as the director of the countywide bicycle coalition out here I’d like them messing in all 16 cities and in between – put don the phone before you hurt or kill someone is a very god use of tax dollars and apt to change some behavior.

      Recommended Thumb up 21

      • Avatar
        Jason H October 4, 2019 at 11:24 am

        Jeff is either confused or conflating two different enforcement efforts. Yes the action 2 days ago in Hillsboro by Hillsboro Police was in the city proper. The article does mention and link to another action in un-incorporated Aloha, but the link makes it fully clear that that operation was run by the Washington County Sheriffs Department, not Hillsboro Police. They know their jurisdictions, and make sure that citations they issue can stick.

        I’m also thankful they run these enforcements wherever they are and wish they were continual to be honest. I sometimes think that with all the curvy rural roads out here people must pay more attention, but then I see the aftermath of a LOT of run-off accidents into trees, ditches and fields and sadly realize it’s probably not true.

        Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Avatar
    SE 34th October 4, 2019 at 8:57 am

    My husband is a TriMet driver. From his high seat, he can see most of the phone use by drivers (he estimates from his viewpoint that between 1/3 and 1/2 are using their phones at any given time). One more creative idea would be to position a police officer in a TriMet bus, and have the police officer radio ahead to a colleague about which cars to stop. Here’s a video of how that works in Ontario, Canada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwqS9mpFAQY

    Recommended Thumb up 42

    • Avatar
      Dave October 4, 2019 at 9:20 am

      Brilliant cover–there are enough (too many, thank you neoliberalism) people on traffic islands with cardboard signs so that many drivers probably tune ’em out! Any cell phone enforcement
      is good enforcement!

      Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes October 4, 2019 at 9:40 am

      From a bike, or a bus stop, I’d say the 1/3 number seems about accurate. The number shoots up if the drivers are waiting at a red light.

      Recommended Thumb up 14

  • Avatar
    DR October 4, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Pffffftttt… I could write more tickets on my two-hour ride. But, it’s a good start.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    betty October 4, 2019 at 10:32 am

    he can stand on my front porch and issue tickets all day. at least 50% of people have their faces in their phones at my intersection. 🙁

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Tom October 4, 2019 at 10:51 am

    The flagged speed safety camera data needs to be reviewed by a police officer anyway before a citation can be given, so why not review at the same time to check for drivers holding a cell phones?

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    Tom October 4, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Why not test one of these roadhound signs out. Could take data before and after to see how well it works. People don’t like to be called out, even if there is no citation involved. Plus no chance of bias.
    https://www.bvsystems.com/product/roadhound-pole-mounted-distracted-driving-alert-deterrent-road-sign/

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Tom October 4, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Other cities have partnered with Zendrive to get free metadata on distracted driving that shows how road design interacts with the likelihood of distraction, or where the hot spot locations are for distration. Why not partner to gain insite.

    https://go1.zendrive.com/distracted-driving-study-2019/

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Avatar
      Andrew October 5, 2019 at 10:45 pm

      That study was an interesting read, thanks. I’m glad to see Oregon and Portland at the bottom of the “most distracted” rankings, but 6% is still way too much.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Andrew October 4, 2019 at 11:20 am

    PBOT organizes some lame event where their staff dresses in high viz and pleads to drivers. Hillsboro PD sends a plain clothes guy with a sign saying hes a cop and nails a bunch of hazardous drivers. Who’s got the backbone?

    Recommended Thumb up 28

  • Avatar
    Buzz October 4, 2019 at 11:39 am

    I saw someone doing it the old-school way on N. Interstate the other day – driving along reading a newspaper spread out on his steering wheel. Yikes!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      maxD October 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      funny! I was riding on Interstate last week and a car ahead of me kept drifting into the bike lane. When I passed it, the woman driving had her nose in thick novel!

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Fred October 4, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    One cell-phone behavior I’m seeing more and more is the “car stopped dead at stop sign or traffic light.” There’s a car just sitting at a stop sign or traffic light, with a driver engrossed in his/her cellphone. If it’s a four-way stop, we’re all looking at that car, wondering what the driver is going to do.

    Apparently many drivers think that if the car is stopped, they can’t be cited for cellphone use. But I don’t think they are right. I suppose this is one reason I’m seeing more cellphones sitting in cradles on the dash: they allow the driver to continue operating the cellphone, without holding it by hand, as if it were the radio or the A/C.

    Ellen DeGeneres said it best: “If something requires both arms and both legs, shouldn’t your head also be involved?”

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    bikeninja October 4, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Maybe we could just hire Hillsboro pd or Washington County Sheriffs to come in to Portland and conduct speed and distracted driver enforcement. They could keep the majority of the fines levied to pay for the service . There does seem to some precedent for this as officers from these two agencies are part of the Transit Police that operate in Portland. Also Washington counties wastewater agency also cleans up part of the Sewage and Stormwater from parts of Portland on the Western Slopes of the West Hills where Portland has trouble getting it pumped to their facilities. Maybe it is time to get creative.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    Andrew October 5, 2019 at 2:40 am

    Theres been some tacit acceptance of distracted driving by regulators, ride share drivers are required to use their phones, and the addition of screens and internet to dashboards. I’ve personally never owned a vehicle with one, but I had a work truck that had an in dash screen for the radio. The scrolling menus and sub-menus required quite a bit of attention. And cant forget the bluetooth. Got to take those calls on the road, hands free but attention lacking.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Pat Franz October 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    ORS 153.058 requires you to include the name and address of the defendant. That’s quite a burden when you’re being run over. I think it should be updated to allow a video that includes a face and a licence plate.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Mark smith October 6, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    it’s ridiculously easy police work is stand and watch people look at their phones while their cars are stopped. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is it people looking to phones where the cars are stopped. sure people can create some crazy story about how someone will run somebody of where the car stopped but really doesn’t happen. but since it’s easy and it looks good and it’s great for the camera cops will give people tickets for being stopped and looking at their phone. Aren’t we an amazing society.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Andrew Kreps October 7, 2019 at 9:10 am

      It’s a big deal to use your phone while still in traffic, even while stopped. You lose your situational awareness, and any information you could glean about your surroundings. There are 12 different directions from which a vehicle or human could be traveling at any given intersection, and if your head is buried in your phone, you’re not going to have any idea what’s going on around you. Add to that most of Portland’s intersections are blind due to large buildings and large vehicles parked right up to them, and you damn well better be paying attention as long as you’re behind the wheel, no matter your speed.

      A stopped car is not a safe car.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Avatar
      maxD October 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      Mark smith
      that very thing happened to my dad. He was riding on a separated path, a car was stopped behind the path, apparently waiting for the bike to pass but in actuality the driver had his face in his phone, texting. When he was done texting he drove directly into my dad without bothering to look around. My dad never recovered form that. It is NEVER safe to be distracted when you are on the road as a driver. If a driver needs to use a phone, even a rideshare or delivery driver, they should pull over into a legal parking spot.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      Greg Spencer October 10, 2019 at 10:42 am

      Actually, about 75 other counties ban mobile phone use while driving — including many in the developing world. What’s amazing about the U.S. is that it’s still legal in 30 states: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones_and_driving_safety#List_of_countries_with_bans

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar