News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Reckless drivers become a community concern

For the past seven months, complaints of roaring engines, squealing tires, and speeding on Highway 242, Edgington Road, McKinney Butte Road and in the Sisters High School parking lot, mainly by young drivers, have poured in to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s dispatch center.

Along Highway 242, directly in front of Sisters Middle School, dark black tire marks tracking across both lanes bear clear-cut evidence of “burned rubber” on the road’s surface. Two non-injury accidents by teenage drivers on or near Edgington Road have taken place in the past two weeks, the direct result of speeding.

Multiple calls came in to dispatch again as recently as Thursday, November 6.

One citizen who lives in the area of concern wrote to The Nugget in late October describing his worry and frustration about the epidemic of reckless driving that he has witnessed firsthand, saying, “The stretch of 242 from Hood Avenue to the high school has become a drag strip, and I would add Edgington Road to that,” David Purviance wrote. “I’m not talking about exceeding the 40 mph speed limit by a couple of mph; I’m talking about cars racing at 60-plus miles per hour, and doing so extremely recklessly. I have even witnessed vehicles speeding on the asphalt walking path in order to race past another vehicle.”

Purviance expressed his concern over the danger to pedestrians and cyclists, adding, “That path paralleling the road is used by mothers jogging while pushing an infant in a stroller; elderly people walking; little kids just learning to ride a bike as their parents watch; and bikers heading up and over McKenzie Pass.”

Comments on local social media groups have expressed intense worry in recent weeks as well. Some posts questioned whether parents of the drivers were aware of their kids’ dangerous behavior.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) shares the community’s concerns.

Sergeant Jayson Janes, who works for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division provided some statistics dating back to last spring.

According to Janes between April 2020 and October 2020 there were 27 traffic complaints in the area.

He said, “These complaints were regarding speeding vehicles, vehicles racing, and vehicles peeling out. The complaints were primarily made in the early evening hours. Some of the complaints were reports of people hearing vehicles racing in the area. Some of the complaints were called in after the fact and requested extra patrols.”

He continued, “Many times the persons were gone upon the deputy’s arrival, or our deputies found the cars parked in the area, but no one observed them driving.”

He explained that law enforcement has to observe the violation in order to be able to stop the vehicle and issue a citation.

According to Janes, the deputies have made 42 traffic stops in that area since April. He said, “Based on how the calls are documented it is unknown what violations the drivers were stopped for. When caught in the act by law enforcement, drivers have been issued warnings, as well as citations.”

Based on the high number of complaints, the DSCO has taken more focused action. The sheriff’s office has assigned deputies to work patrols in areas of concern, and deputies are being randomly assigned to work this area, looking specifically for people racing, speeding, or any other concerning driving behavior, according to Janes.

Janes said, “Last week we had a deputy work specifically in that area. The deputy spent approximately six hours working that area. He observed two violations of speed and issued warnings.”

In general, Janes explained, “The Sheriff’s Office uses traffic enforcement to educate people in order to gain voluntary compliance. If that does not work, and the same people are stopped committing the same types of violations, citations may likely be issued.”

Janes concluded “The sheriff’s office takes reports of speeding and racing seriously. We have seen the effects of crashes where speed was the main contributing factor. This type of driving is not only dangerous to the occupants of the vehicles, but to everyone that shares the roadway. Excessive speed drastically reduces your reaction time, limiting what can be done to avoid a collision.

The citizen who wrote to The Nugget said it will take a community effort to curb the problem. Purviance wrote, “Parents, teachers and coaches have to have the serious talk about the potential consequences of what these young drivers are doing.”

Janes agrees, saying, “The sheriff’s office asks that citizens make reports to the dispatch center if they see or hear this type of activity taking place,” he said. “If possible give the dispatcher descriptions of the vehicles involved, and leave your name and phone number in case the deputies have any further questions.”

The nonemergency DSCO dispatch number is 541-693-6911.


Reader Comments(0)