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Traffic Crashes Rising
Drivers Are More Aggressive

(Created: Thursday, November 12, 2009 9:45 AM PST)

Traffic crashes along U.S. Highway 101 and U.S. Highway 26 from Seaside to the outside world are on the increase and are becoming more dangerous, according to Oregon State Police (OSP) Senior Trooper Jim Pierce.

Pierce, a Seaside area native, is one of three OSP traffic crash reconstruction specialists who use forensic science and other tools to determine how fatal traffic crashes occur.

Pierce said he is seeing more accidents caused by aggressive drivers.

“Yes,” said Pierce. “Aggressive driving is going way up.”

“I think it is the sign of the times. Everybody is leaving home at a later time. They are in a rush to get from point A to point B. They are taking their aggressions or anxieties out on other motorists on the highway. If they feel upset about something it is going towards somebody else and its going in a car.

Pierce said drivers are being more aggressive by using higher speeds.

“We see a lot higher speeds,” stated Pierce. “Our speeds on U.S. Highway 26 ten or 15 years ago would be about 80 miles an-hour. Now we are seeing 100 mile-an- hour speed on a consistent bases.”

Pierce said speeds are also increasing along U.S. Highway 101

between Seaside and Astoria. “Any time you bring emotions into driving, that’s when recklessness starts to enter the picture.”

Pierce outlined how he investigates fatal crashes in the region during a presentation before the Seaside Downtown Development Association Thursday, Nov.5.

He said being a reconstruction specialist does become frustrating. Pierce investigates the same type of fatal crashes over and over again that he believes could have been prevented. He said following each fatal collision that involves drugs or alcohol, that death should be a focus of the community so that such crashes are prevented.

To slow drivers down, Pierce wants to see more education.

“I think it will take more education. Enforcement with more troopers will help, but each driver must take responsibility. That must start from the first driving level at high school to when you stop driving.

He believes that Oregon should require frequent driver tests to effectively educate motorists so that they understand the rules of the road and the consequences if they don’t follow those rules. He suggests a testing system similar to what is done in Germany.

“German motorists are required to take regular tests and be recertified each time they renew their license,” Pierce said. “I think that would help us.”

Pierce said police are also dealing with more and more people using cell phones while they are driving.

“Drivers need to realize that cell phones are definitely a distraction.”

Oregon law enforcement agencies will soon have a more effective tool to stop such behind-the-wheel distractions. A new state law that prohibits drivers from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle will take effect Jan.1 2010.

“If we observe a driver with a cell phone up to their head, that will allow us probable cause to stop that vehicle,” Pierce explained.

He believes that the state police will conduct a warning period before aggressively issuing tickets to motorists violating the “no-cell-phone-while-driving” law.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, violating the law will be a Class D traffic violation with a fine of up to $90 for operating a mobile communication device while driving. There are some exceptions, including hands-free devices. The exceptions are outlined in the law.

For specific details about the new Oregon cell phone law that takes effect Jan.1 2010 visit: