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Police planning extra patrols.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

Oregon State Police Capt. Gerry Gregg says it's no secret what types of motorists will catch the attention of dozens of troopers patrolling busy roads statewide this holiday weekend.

"Our main focus will be toward intoxicated, fatigued, reckless and aggressive drivers," said Gregg, who heads OSP's patrol division.

So, anyone who wants to enjoy a citation-free Memorial Day weekend needs to avoid falling into those categories. Because the fact is that the state police force has added more than 59 new patrol troopers since 2007, when the Oregon Legislature awarded the agency additional funding for staffing.

"Travelers should see a noticeable, consistent enforcement presence now that we have more troopers hired and trained that are out on our highways," Gregg said.

State troopers won't be the only cops keeping a close eye on the roads this weekend.

A traffic-enforcement project called "Operation CARE" (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) runs through Monday. It involves extra patrols by OSP troopers and local police officers throughout Oregon.

The program - which police hope works to reduce crashes - coincides with the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign aimed at enforcing laws regarding proper seat belt and child safety seat use.

That stepped-up effort began Monday and continues through May 31.

State and federal overtime grants fund the extra police patrols.

Police point out that in Oregon, alcohol factors into more deaths during the Memorial Day weekend than any other holiday period. Last year, two people died in traffic crashes over the three-day weekend - matching the lowest fatality count for the state during that period since 1970.

But with gas prices about $1.40 per gallon lower this May than in 2008, officials predict more motorists - and more potential danger - on Oregon's roads during this year's Memorial Day weekend.

"Even though last year's (fatality) number was so low, 10 people did die in Oregon traffic crashes over this holiday two years ago," Gregg said.

State officials remind motorists to not drink and drive; get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel; and slow down when traveling through work zones.
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Officials predict that this year's lower gas prices could lead to more danger on Oregon's roads this holiday weekend
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2009
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