A recent article by the Associated Press, featured on KGW Newschannel 8's web site, discusses the connection between an increase in drivers who exceed the speed limit and a decrease in the number of state troopers on Oregon roads.
Oregon citations for speeding at 90 mph and faster have increased 4 percent during the past five years, during a period when the number of speeding tickets overall dropped by 30 percent. Complaints about aggressive driving, including tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic, also have increased. Speeding was the sole cause of 35 percent of all traffic fatalities in Oregon in 2003, the most recent year for which crash statistics are available. By contrast, alcohol was the sole cause of 25 percent of traffic fatalities. Seat belt use by drivers hovers around 92 percent. Experts cite numerous reasons for the jump in speeding: drivers in a hurry to get where they are going; modern car engineering creating a deceptively safe-feeling and quiet ride; and, in Oregon, fewer troopers on the road to enforce higher speed limits on some sections of the interstate. Washington state, for instance, with 1.7 times Oregon's population, has 2.7 times the troopers -- 658 to Oregon's 241.
I can certainly attest to the lack of a decreased presence of Oregon State Troopers. Over the past 6 months, I've traveled throughout Oregon, Washington and Northern California going to job interviews. In both Washington and California, I've seen numerous state troopers patrolling the roads.
However, after a recent trip from Salem to Klamath, California, I did not see one Oregon State Trooper while covering over 500 Oregon miles during daylight hours over two days time. Not one! (I saw 7 state troopers in California in an area of less than 100 miles.)
Is it any wonder then that more drivers speed through Oregon? If there's little chance of being ticketed, most drivers won't give a second thought to driving as fast as they can.