Authorities crack down on distracted drivers

Authorities crack down on distracted drivers

PORTLAND, Ore. – It started with a glance. Then, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Kent Krumpschmidt was in hot pursuit.

“There’s someone on their phone right there,” he said.

Up ahead was a woman he believed wasn’t paying attention behind the wheel.

“They feel like they don’t have the ability to disconnect from the phone,” Krumpschmidt said afterward.“They have to respond to a text message immediately, answer the phone. They [have to] be connected at all times.”

Krumpschmidt was one of many officers targeting cell phone use behind the wheel on Wednesday. It’s part of a two-week effort by Portland Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, and Oregon State Police.

As part of the sting, 125 citations were issued for unlawful use of a cellphone, 58 tickets for failure to use seatbelts, 14 speeding tickets were given and 71 various other citations issued, according to the Oregon State Police.

In addition, two drivers were arrested on suspicion of DUI and one stolen vehicle was recovered. A 29-year-old Portland man was arrested on a felony warrant and another man was found to be an out-of-compliance sex offender.

Some drivers come up with excuses, Krumpschmidt said. “He tried to tell me he was turning his phone off, but I’ve never seen someone turn their phone off by holding it to their ear.”

Fred Stanwood owned up to it when he was pulled over.

“I’m totally guilty. I have nothing to hide. And I shouldn’t have been doing it. That’s what I told him,” he said. “I shouldn’t have been on my phone, because I hate being next to or following people who are doing the same thing.”

To give some perspective of just how distracted you can be when texting and driving, police said 4.6 seconds of texting while driving 55 mph is like traveling the entire length of a football field with a blindfold on.

“You don’t realize how distracted you actually are and how much you’re actually missing on the roadway,” said Krumpschmidt.