Today the City of Bend installed a memorial sign on SE Reed Market Road near Pettigrew Road, the area where in 2011, 16-year-old Forrest Cepeda was hit and killed by a driver who was texting. The City installed the sign to honor Cepeda’s memory and to help discourage distracted driving.
“People need to know how serious this issue is. Distracted driving is a known leading cause of crashes,” said Bend Police Sergeant Eric Hagan. “It’s a really widespread problem. The Police Department averages more than 500 cell phone tickets and warnings a year now.”
Distracted driving traffic crashes can result in property damage, personal injuries and death. Distracted driving has a direct impact on reaction time, which leads to the increase in traffic crashes. Studies have suggested using cell phones while driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of intoxicants.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2015:
- 3,477 people were killed by distracted driving
- 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving
- 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving
Oregon’s new districted driving law, which went into effect last October, toughened rules and fines associated with operating a vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, and includes potential jail time for repeat offenders. Generally, ORS 881.507 says it’s illegal to drive while holding or using a mobile electronic device.
The Bend City Manager, acting as the City of Bend Road Authority, granted an exemption to the City’s standards for road memorials to allow the Bend Streets and Operations Department to install an educational sign about texting and driving, in memory of Forrest Cepeda.