Police to focus on traffic this weekend

Sweet Home Police Department officers will be focusing on downtown traffic as the Labor Day weekend approaches and the department is reminding the public to avoid drinking and driving.

“You’ve heard it before,” said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. “And we’re going to keep repeating it: Don’t drink and drive. After the past year, the Sweet Home community is well aware of the tragedy it causes. Drunk driving is completely unacceptable.”

Lynn urged those who drink to plan out a safe ride home prior to drinking, to choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver.

The department advises that if someone has been drinking, don’t let that person get behind the wheel. Take the keys and arrange a ride home with a sober driver. Those hosting parties should make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

“And everyone needs to wear a seatbelt,” Lynn said. “It’s the best defense against a drunk driver.”

The fine for a misdemeanor drunken driving conviction is a minimum of $1,000 the first time. The maximum fine is $10,000.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities are the result of driving while impaired. In 2018, 10,511 people were killed in crashes involving impaired drivers.

Alcohol interferes with brain function, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination, which are all essential to safely operating a vehicle, Lynn said.

So far this year, Sweet Home police have arrested 15 people for drunken driving. Last year police arrested 22; 23 in 2018; 17 in 2015; and 24 in 2010.

In addition to watching for drunken drivers, SHPD will focus next weekend on downtown traffic issues.

“We all know that the volume of traffic has picked up dramatically,” Lynn said. “With it, we have heard concerns about speeds, and our officers will be out to address it.”

The city is working through the final details with the Oregon Department of Transportation to install radar speed displays along Main Street.