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Hit-and-runs and motor vehicle crashes up from 2020

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Traffic waits Wednesday at red light at Highway 62 near Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Reckless driving cases, motor vehicle crashes and hit-and-run cases in 2021 have increased slightly from 2020, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Reckless driving cases increased from 27 incidents in January to May of 2020 compared to 38 in the same time period in 2021. However, cases were significantly higher in 2019 and 2018, which had 100 and 91 incidents, respectively.

According to the Medford Police Department, hit-and-run cases and motor vehicle crash numbers have increased slightly this year. Police recorded 424 hit-and-runs from January to June 2020, compared to 436 in the same period this year. Motor vehicle crashes are up from 739 in 2020 to 897 in 2021.

Medford police Sgt. Steve Furst said that the past three years have seen the fewest citations he has witnessed, which he attributed to increased enforcement and education, as well as fewer people driving in 2020.

“We think that if we can get people to reduce their speed combined with reducing distracted driving, we can reduce a lot of the accidents,” he said.

“There is a direct correlation between increased enforcement and education of traffic laws and a reduction of crashes and injury crashes,” he said.

Education is done through press releases and traffic enforcement operations, such as a school zone where police will patrol heavily, primarily issuing warnings, but will also write tickets for those going well over the speed limit.

Furst said that most people are pulled over because of speeding and distracted driving.

“Plan ahead so you aren’t late,” he said. “We’ve talked to a lot of people we've stopped who have said they're running late.”

Press releases and warnings can only go so far though, and some tickets need to be issued, Furst said.

“We're trying to educate people with press releases and warnings,” Furst said. “But we also know that enforcement and issuing citations are a part of it.”

Reach Mail Tribune news intern William Seekamp at wseekamp@rosebudmedia.com.