BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding video, comments from ODOT, sheriff)
Central Oregon is gearing up for the Fourth of July, the area's busiest summer holiday.
Already seeing a large increase in drivers out on Central Oregon roads, officials want to remind people to be safe when traveling in a car.
Central Oregon has already seen a 20 percent increase in cars on the roads over the past two years.
That is a big leap for an area that typically sees a 2 percent increase in a typical two-year period.
With a dozen fatal crashes in Central Oregon or involving Central Oregonians just since Memorial Day weekend, it is important to be mindful while out on the roads.
Officials urge drivers to put their phones down and be aware of their surroundings while behind the wheel.
ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said that with more congestion on the roads, reaction times are cut way down and it becomes harder to stop quickly and avoid trouble.
“Our reaction time to stuff is is compressed," Murphy said. "It’s a lot shorter, because there are so many more people on the road it’s more congested.”
Officials also want to remind drivers of the responsibility that comes along with getting behind the wheel of a car, and the impact that your actions can have on others while driving.
Bend police and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office said Monday they want everyone to have a safe but fun holiday, by being responsible and aware.
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said, "Don’t be in a hurry to get to your destination. Take the opportunity and enjoy the trip, make sure that you look out as far as you can see when you are traveling on the roadway.”