Whether it’s the Coronavirus Effect, a general sense of lawlessness, lack of concern about consequences, or all of the above — the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has been very busy with dangerous drivers recently.
You’ve likely seen the headlines about a spike in speeding. This is happening for the aforementioned reasons and because the pandemic has opened up more space on the roads. Any armchair traffic engineer will tell you that when people have more space to operate a vehicle they will use it to go faster (like 107 mph in a 45 mph zone) and take more chances.
Now we have hard data from the PPB about how this phenomenon is playing out locally.
According to statistics shared the PPB last week, the Traffic Division has issued 328% more speeding citations in the last two months compared to the same time period last year. Between March 24th, 2019 and May 12th, 2020 they issued 661 speed limit citations and 5 speed racing citations. Between those same dates this year they issued 2,832 citations for speeding and 22 for speed racing.
In the past month alone (since April 29th), the Traffic Division has issued 85 citations, 70 warnings and made two arrests during three “Pedestrian Safety Crosswalk Missions.”
Then there’s illegal street racing. Since April 20th, the PPB have shown up to four of these gatherings where people do burnouts (a.k.a. donuts) and race each other on public streets and in private parking lots. On April 12th a large group of people blocked the upper deck of I-405 Fremont Bridge so they could hold an impromptu party with their cars and get videos of people driving in circles very fast.
In less than a month the PPB has made 83 stops, issued 65 citations, towed 15 cars, and arrested 18 people at these illegal and dangerous events.
This is a huge drain on city resources that could be put to more productive use and it exposes yet another negative impact some drivers have. This type of behavior puts all road users at risk.
Thankfully PPB Traffic Division officers have been able to devote about 25% more time to traffic enforcement this year (compared to last year). That’s because all the events they usually work have been cancelled and there’s been a reduction in major crashes.
Hopefully drivers get the message that their scofflaw behaviors won’t go unnoticed. And the next time you hear someone ranting on Nextdoor about how bicycle riders are going through stop signs, please send them the link to this article.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.