Police brace for major traffic issues

Lincoln City Police patrol officers are working to help ease traffic congestion and are urge drivers to be patient and to follow safe driving habits.

With tourism surging in Lincoln City as the pandemic restrictions ease, Lincoln City Police are bracing for the impact this summer.

“We anticipate traffic this summer to be very heavy due to anticipated increase in visitors to the Oregon Coast,” Lincoln City Police Department (LCPD) Sgt. Jeffrey Winn said. “We expect there will be traffic slowdowns and delays in the normal choke points of Highway 101 where traffic is funneled from two lanes down to one lane.”

What officers are finding

While officers are finding assorted traffic violations, the most frequent traffic violations include drivers without the required licenses and insurance.

“We issue a lot of citations for Driving While Suspended and Driving Uninsured,” he said.

According to Winn, the violations that substantially increase the chance for motor vehicle crashes and injuries are the following moving violations:

•  Speeding

•  Failing to Obey a

Traffic Control Device,

•  Following to Closely

•  Dangerous Left Turn

•  Distracted Driving

(Use of a Cell Phone or Electronic Devise While Driving).

“In addition to those violations, Passing a vehicle Stopped at a Cross Walk and Failing to Yield to a Person in a Cross Walk have high potential for causing serious injuries or death,” Winn said. “Of course Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) is a crime that has a very high potential for crashes with injury or death.”

 Fines and driver attitude

The fine amounts traffic violators face are set by the courts and are based on the classification of the violation or in the case of speeding, the increase depending on how fast over the speed limit you are going, Winn said.

“The violation fines generally range from $115, $165, $265 or $440,” he said. “The lower fines are generally for most equipment type violations while the higher fines are for moving violations. Speeding, Failing to Obey a Traffic Control Device, Following to Closely, Dangerous Left Turn, Passing a vehicle Stopped at a Crosswalk and Failing to Yield to a Person in a Cross are $265.”

Winn said officers receive a wide range of comments from drivers stopped for traffic violations.

“Generally, they say they didn’t know or realize they were committing the violation,” Winn said. “An example would be, they didn’t know they were speeding, or they didn’t know what the speed limit was, or they thought the light was yellow when they went through etc.”   

According to Winn, LCPD patrol officers are seeing a specific driver attitude.

“Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days and are trying to get somewhere,” Winn said. “You couple this with the heavy traffic and slow downs and they can become very frustrated and angry which causes them to drive more aggressively, this increases the chances for a crash to occur.”

Dealing with the traffic jams

LCDP is conducting most traffic enforcement with on-duty patrol personnel, but depending on staffing, LCPD does increase patrols during some holidays and/or special event time periods. Winn said the increases are generally discussed and set by the supervisory staff members.

“We also utilize traffic safety grant funds to put on extra personnel specifically to seek out intoxicated drivers or distracted drivers, or to conduct pedestrian safety enforcement operations,” he said.

The grant funds are provided to LCPD by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Impact.    

Pedestrian safety

LCPD has conducted various pedestrian traffic safety operations along busy Highway 101 to increase driver awareness of the various crosswalk areas.

“Most of the marked and unmarked crosswalks are concerning due the heavy traffic and the fact that many drivers are in a hurry and/or are not paying attention to their driving or the road,” Winn said. “Drivers are required to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, but it is also incumbent on the pedestrians, for their own safety, to pay attention and watch traffic as they are crossing to make sure they are seen and the traffic is stopping.”

Over the next few months, LCPD will be conducting additional pedestrian safety operations.

“We will be utilizing traffic safety grant funds for those operations and announcements of when and where the operations will occur will be sent out to media sources prior to the operation occurring,” Winn said. “In addition, signage advising of the operation is posted before and during the operation in the area where the operation is occurring.”

Winn said overall, the main traffic advisory to the public is that everyone’s safety is LCPD’s top concern and top priority.

“We would ask all drivers to remain alert while driving and to slow down and pay attention to traffic and to watch for pedestrians,” Winn said. “We recommend they expect delays in traffic and be courteous and have patience. The members of the Lincoln City Police Department are committed to continuing our efforts to improve traffic safety for our citizens and visitors alike.”

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