Distracted Driving Claims Lives
With the expanded use of technology for navigation, streaming music, and delivery services, cell phones are a distraction that is causing a growing number of deadly accidents. In 2020 NHTSA reports that 3,142 lives were claimed due to distracted driving.
What is a Distracted Driver?
A distracted driver is a person who is operating a vehicle and is not 100% focused on the road. There are many reasons a driver may become distracted, but the most common distractions are cell phones for calling or texting, eating, using navigation, playing music too loud, and passengers.
Over the years, cell phone usage has increased due to their expanded functionality. In most cases, cell phone usage has improved our lives with their ability to decrease the need for a separate navigation device, external music player and cd’s, convenience of emails and quick communication with family and friends via texting and social media. However, it’s become increasingly difficult for cell phone users to separate themselves from the device while driving.
While most people can operate a cell phone based on memory and even in one hand, the danger that it provides to a driver can be deadly. NHTSA reports that, “sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
Laws on Distracted Driving in Oregon
On October 1, 2017, Oregon enacted the distracted driving law, also known as the cell phone law. This law states that it is illegal to drive while holding and using a mobile electronic device while driving. This includes a variety of types of devices including cell phones, tablets, GPS devices or laptops.
This law has a few exceptions including:
- The use of hands-free or built-in devices is permitted if you are 18 years of age or older.
- The use of a mobile device for a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate the device.
- Use of mobile devices is permitted when stopped in a parked area such a parking lot. The use of mobile devices at a stop light, sign or stopped in traffic is not permitted.
- In the event of a medical emergency.
- Two-radios for use by CDL drivers within the scope of their employment is permitted.
- The use of HAM radios if you are 18 years or older.
What are the Fines for Using a Mobile Device While Driving?
The Oregon law allows for a Class B violation with a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first offense that doesn’t contribute to an accident. The second offense is a Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,000. The second offense violation could be enacted if it was the first offense but caused an accident. The third offense within a ten-year period is a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum fine up to $2,500 and the possibility of 6 months jail time.
Statistics on Distracted Driving in Oregon
Oregon.gov reports that:
- “Distracted Driving” is a dangerous behavior for drivers, passengers, and non-occupants alike. Distraction is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead (per NHTSA).
- From 2016-2020 there were 15,538 crashes resulting in 186 fatalities and 24,126 injuries caused by crashes involving a distracted driver in Oregon (all ages).
- From 2016-2020 there were 1,237 crashes, resulting in 24 fatalities and 1,824 injuries caused by drivers reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
- 2016-2020 There were 127 crashes involving a driver age 16-18 reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash: 0 fatalities and 179 people injured.
- 2016-2020 There were 59,074 convictions for this offense.
Statistics were Sourced on August 23, 2022 from Oregon Department of Transportation : Distracted Driving : Safety : State of Oregon
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