The Yamhill County Sheriff's Office has received a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation designed to combat serious and fatal crashes in the county.
The grant facilitated hiring a safety enforcement deputy as of June 1 that will continue for 16 months, as well as fund overtime hours for focused enforcement efforts. In practice, according to Sheriff Tim Svenson, the pilot project will add to the existing measures the YCSO is using —- DUII patrols, seatbelt and rural speed enforcement —– to provide services dedicated to traffic safety.
Svenson said that in addition to the more than 3 percent increase in population over the last five years, the county has seen a steady uptick in employment, meaning more employees are plying the roads on their way to work.
"The viticulture industry continues to grow, bringing both employees and tourists to the region," Svenson said, "and Yamhill County's location that includes a nearby popular casino and major thoroughfare to the Oregon coast equates to more people traveling county roadways."
The sheriff added that over the past four years Yamhill County has ranked among the top four counties in the state for serious injury and fatal crashes. In 2015, the county ranked ninth overall for fatal crashes and third in the number of fatal and serious injury crashes among Oregon counties.
The pilot project will focus on public education and enforcement of traffic laws in order to enhance public safety. If the countermeasure are successful in reducing fatal and serious injury crashes on county roadways, Svenson intends to use the impact of this ODOT-funded position to request a permanent allocation in the office's discretionary fund from the Board of Commissioners.
"The data captured during the grant-funded period and the positive outcome we expect it to have on our ranking, equating to fewer serious and fatal crashes, will be significant evidence in support of permanent funding for this undertaking," he said.