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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.

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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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Greg SpencermaxDAndrew KrepsMark smithPat Franz Recent comment authors
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aaron
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aaron

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

bikeninja
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bikeninja

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.

JeffS
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JeffS

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

SE 34th
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SE 34th

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

DR
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DR

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

betty
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betty

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. 🙁

Tom
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Tom

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?

Tom
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Tom

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/

Tom
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Tom

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/

Andrew
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Andrew

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?

Buzz
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Buzz

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!

Fred
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Fred

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?”

bikeninja
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bikeninja

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.

Andrew
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Andrew

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.

Pat Franz
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Pat Franz

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.

Mark smith
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Mark smith

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.