Distracted Driver Awareness Month
April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness month. ODOT reports that in a period of 6 years studied there were over 1040 crashes that were directly related to drives that were distracted by operating a cell phone causing 19 fatalities and over 4400 injuries. Oregon’s new distracted driving law went into effect on October 1st of last year. Chief Tom Turner said the allowance for tolerance is one touch one swipe. Turner says that the tourist season will likely see an uptick in distracted driving and advises people to be extra cautious. And reminds us that there is only one safe legal way to use your phone.
“you have to be legally pulled off the road and parked to utilize your phone you just can’t be waiting at a light. And it’s another great reminder that you just can’t utilize that device. That’s what it’s all about. And people a lot of times thought that was something that the police would not enforce and we certainly will.”
In Oregon someone is injured by distracted driving about every three hours.
Gas Prices Continue Upward Trend
Gas prices have continued to climb and according to AAA Oregon the nation has seen some of the highest consumption totals for the first quarter of the year that they have ever seen for that time period. Marie Dodds says this is causing prices to be at the highest point in years.
“We saw those numbers crank up again and stay very strong during the first quarter. we never really saw that consumption drop off significantly this year as we do during a more normal year.”
Dodds believes the increase is due to the economy with people traveling more. March daily totals were in excess of 9 million barrels a day. Spring maintenance on refineries and the switch to summer blends is also a factor. Dodds says Oregon prices will continue to climb.
“When we look at Florence our current average is $2.95 that’s up 2 cents in the last week and doing a lot better than the statewide average in Oregon which is at $3.09 a gallon up 3 cents in the last week.”
Dodds says AAA is expecting a booming travel season as we head into mid to late spring and it should continue into summer. Look for it to be an extra busy Rhododendron Festival this year.
OPRD Considers E-bikes on Trails
So you have bought an e-bike and wondered why I can’t use it on the trails. Well that could be about to change as the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is proposing a rule change that would allow certain models of electric bicycles on the trails. The proposed change would allow them on trails or roads that are wider than 8 feet and on select beaches along the shore. One distinction is that e-bikes would not be allowed to operate within the western snowy plover management areas. OPRD is seeking public comment and will also have 6 different public hearings the closest of which will be in Newport on May 1st at their public library. You can also submit comments at Oregon.gov/oprd.