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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Traffic Fatalities Soar To Highest Number In More Than A Decade

W. Robert Howell
Flickr -
File photo. So far in 2016, 489 people have died on Oregon roads.

Two people were killed in separate traffic crashes in Oregon Tuesday. That means 2016 is now the deadliest year on Oregon's roads in more than a decade.

On Tuesday evening a 22-year old pedestrian was struck and killed along a state highway just east of Redmond. About an hour later, a single vehicle crash on a freeway off-ramp took the life of a 30-year-old Portland driver. Those deadly wrecks follow closely on the heels of a triple-fatal crash on Highway 26 near Warm Springs Monday.

All told 489 people have died on Oregon roads so far in 2016. That's the most since 2003, when 512 people were killed.

The Oregon Department of Transportation said contributing factors may include more vehicles on the road due to the economic recovery, as well as an increase in distracted driving due to electronic devices.

Oregon lawmakers will consider a proposal next year to increase the first-time penalty for distracted driving to $6,000 or a year in prison.