SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) -- Oregon State Police is making a plea with drivers to be safe on the road as December is one of the deadliest months in Oregon, much of it due to impaired driving.
In December 2011, OSP says there were 25 fatal car crashes in Oregon. Seven of those crashes - or nearly a third - involved impaired drivers.
That’s up from December 2010 when OSP says there were nineteen fatal crashes, seven of them involving alcohol.
Already, troopers are seeing the impact of impaired driving this month. Thursday morning, December 6, an accused drunk driver hit an OSP trooper’s car on Highway 101 near Gold Beach.
In response to a worsening impaired driving picture, Oregon’s officers have continued to train over the years with new methods. One in particular is Drug Recognition Experts or DREs. Oregon State Police has several DRE officers who are trained to recognize impairment signs from various substances.
"In the last few years we've made huge strides in training and knowledge, officer-wise in what to look for,” says Sergeant Alan Gilbert of Oregon State Police’s Springfield Command.
“Find a designated driver or find somebody, someway to get home that doesn't include you drinking alcohol or being intoxicated and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and risking injuring yourself or somebody else,” says Gilbert.
Springfield’s OSP office lead all other Oregon State Police offices in DUII arrests in 2011. They arrested 650 in 2011, up 75 arrests from 2010.
In early 2012, Springfield’s OSP office was also awarded the DUII Enforcement State Agency of the Year award for its work.