Compared to other states, Oregon has shortage of troopers to enf - KPTV - FOX 12

Compared to other states, Oregon has shortage of troopers to enforce distracted driving law

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon’s legislature passed a tough new distracted driving law this past session, making it illegal to even hold your phone while driving, but the agency that faces the task of enforcing the law is stretched thin.

Compared to other states, Oregon has a considerable shortage of state troopers to enforce the new law on state highways.

“We’re about half the numbers we had in 1980 and as you know, Oregon’s population has grown. Licensed drivers have increased and registered vehicles have increased,” said Captain Bill Fugate, a spokesman for the Oregon State Police.

In the Portland area, for example, OSP used to have close to 70 sworn troopers. In 2017, there were just 26.

According to population figures from the latest U.S. Census, Oregon has the second lowest patrol troopers per 1000 people in the nation. With a population of just over four million, the state has just 330 authorized troopers.

The closest state to Oregon in terms of population, Oklahoma, has 820. The next closest, Kentucky, has over 1,000.

“We just don’t have the resources we need to be out there with an enforcement presence that we’d like to have,” said Fugate.

Oregon State Troopers specifically prioritize distracted and impaired drivers as part of their daily patrols, but each trooper can be tasked with patrolling dozens, if not hundreds of miles of highway.

The state’s new distracted driving law can leave drivers who violate it with a $260 ticket for their first offense.

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