City sees big jump in hit-and-runs
Lake Oswego saw a decrease in bicycle and pedestrian injury crashes in 2017, but statistics released this month by the Lake Oswego Police Department show a sharp rise in the number of hit-and-run incidents, mainly involving parked cars in parking lots.
"Our hit-and-runs have gone through the roof," LOPD Lt. Doug Treat told The Review last week.
According to the police department's Traffic Statistics Yearly Review, there were a total of 240 crashes (not including the hit-and-runs) in the city last year, which is a 10 percent decrease from the year before. Of those, 183 were non-injury crashes and 57 resulted in someone getting hurt — a 37 percent decrease in injury crashes compared to 2016.
Combined, crashes and hit-and-run incidents totaled 483 last year, which is an increase of 24 percent over 2016. According to the report, that puts Lake Oswego slightly above the national average for 2017, which was a 20 percent increase in crashes over 2016.
There were only two instances of cars striking bikes in Lake Oswego last year, compared to seven in 2016. In addition, there were only two instances of pedestrians struck by cars in the city, compared to nine in 2016. However, one of those crashes last year was a fatality: a pedestrian was struck and killed by an SUV in January 2017.
In that fatal accident, the driver had been going west on B Avenue when he made a left turn onto Third Street, heading south. The pedestrian, 66-year-old Louise Fay Marandas of Lake Oswego, was crossing Third Street at the south side of the intersection and was run over by the car; she died instantly. The driver later told police that the sun had been in his eyes and he had not seen Marandas.
According to Treat, distracted driving played a role in many of last year's accidents, especially the hit-and-runs, and it's an issue that has been getting worse each year.
The summary report notes that 57 of the 240 crashes involved vehicles that drove off the road or into fixed objects, something the report says is "clearly (a result of) distracted driving." Four of those crashes resulted in injuries.
Additionally, the number of hit-and-run incidents saw a 93 percent increase, from 126 in 2016 to 243 in 2017. The report states that a majority of these incidents involved parked cars, which it again states is "clearly (a result of) distracted driving."
"The No. 1 cause of traffic crashes in a parking lot is backing up," Treat said. "We get a lot of people who aren't paying attention to the front or back end of the car and they hit stuff. You also have a lot of things going on in a shopping center — it's a very busy place, so if you're not totally focused on where you are and how you're driving, you're going to run into stuff."
The report also listed the top 10 Lake Oswego locations with the greatest number of crashes last year, although several of those 10 were ties:
¦ The Lake Grove Shopping Center on Bryant Road stands out at No. 1, with a total of eight crashes last year.
¦ The intersection at State Street and McVey Avenue saw five crashes, as did the intersection at Boones Ferry Road and Country Club Road.
The State Street and McVey Avenue intersection ranked high on the 2016 crash list too, with many of the crashes stemming from an unprotected left-turn lane for northbound
traffic. ODOT upgraded the lane to protected status partway through 2017, however, and Treat noted that most
of last year's crashes took place before the change was made.
"We have had one crash since that intersection
was changed," he said, "and
it was unrelated to the left turn."
¦ Two parking lots also saw five crashes each: 310 N. State St., which is the internal parking garage at Lake View Village; and 7/8 Centerpointe Drive, which is the shared parking lot for Oswego Grill, Chipotle and other businesses near the junction of Kruse Way and Interstate 5.
Treat says those two parking lots, along with the lot at the Lake Grove Shopping Center, all made the list due to the increase in hit-and-run incidents.
"We've had crashes in the parking lot where both parties are there, so it's not a hit-and-run," he said. "The majority of crashes in that (Lake Grove) parking lot, though, are hit-and-runs — somebody came out and found their vehicle was damaged."
¦ The intersection at State Street and A Avenue had four crashes last year.
¦ The remaining three locations on the list were all along Kruse Way — at Carman Drive, Westlake Drive and Bangy Road — with three crashes each. For most of those intersections, Treat says the primary culprit appears to be drivers turning left.
Two intersections that ranked highly on the 2016 list didn't appear in the 2017 top 10: South Shore Boulevard at Blue Heron Road, and Boones Ferry Road at Bryant Road. Treat says that the city made some changes to the warning striping and signage at the South Shore intersection, and said last year's relatively warmer and drier winter may also have helped.
"For some of them, like Bryant and Boones Ferry, we stepped up our enforcement and had more of a presence in that area, which I think has dramatically lowered our crashes," he added. "That's not to say we didn't have any — we had a couple — but we didn't have eight like we had the year before."