In an effort to increase traffic safety, the Roseburg Police Department will be boosting patrols of safety belt compliance and distracted driving for the next two weeks.

Until June 2, officers will work overtime shifts specifically focusing on seat belt and child restraint usage, texting while driving and speeding.

The increased patrols are part of a statewide “Click It or Ticket Campaign blitz period” in which Oregon law enforcement agencies use federal funding to raise traffic safety, according to Roseburg Police Sgt. Jeff Eichenbusch.

Using a $3,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, the department will designate traffic officers for overtime shifts throughout the blitz period.

Eichenbusch said the grant is a big help for the department, which doesn’t currently have the resources to permanently staff a traffic officer.

“It allows us to provide focused patrols for these events,” Eichenbusch said. “We would love to be able to provide routine patrols for those different traffic things, but due to staffing right now, we don’t have a traffic team,” Eichenbusch said.

He said the need to bolster normal patrols led to the department dissolving its traffic team.

“Hopefully not long-term, but temporarily the traffic team has been disbanded, and that was so we could help out patrol,” he said.

Other law enforcement agencies participating in the program in Douglas County are the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Reedsport Police Department.

In 2017, a lack of safety belt or child restraint was a factor in 22% of motor vehicle occupant fatalities in Oregon, according to ODOT data. Nationwide, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-12, according to a press release from the Click It or Ticket Campaign.

Oregon passed a law in 2017 requiring children to ride in a rear-facing safety seat until they are 2 years old. Additionally, children under 4 feet, 9 inches tall or between the ages 2-8 must ride in a car seat with a harness or a booster.

In 2017, 1,898 children under 12 years old were injured in Oregon traffic crashes, according to ODOT. Nine percent were reported not using a child restraint system.

Eichenbusch said he hopes the blitz period will help traffic safety compliance overall.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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