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Distracted Driving

The Oregon Department of Transportation is actively working to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. This is being done through public service ads, education and agency partnerships.

Join the Drive Healthy campaign.

​Distraction occurs when a driver diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver's eyes, ears or hands.

There are four types of driver distraction:

  • Visual - looking at something other than the road
  • Auditory - hearing something not related to driving
  • Manual - handling something other than the steering wheel
  • Cognitive - thinking about something other than driving


Most distractions involve more than one of these types, both a sensory - eyes, ears or touch - and a mental component.

2017 Legislature updates Oregon’s distracted driving law 

Also referred to as the cell phone law, goes into effect Oct. 1, 2017
 
Oregon’s basic law Enrolled House Bill 2597 says it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (e.g. cell phone, tablet, GPS, laptop). Beginning January 1, 2018, courts will have the ability waive the fine for first-time offenders who attend an approved Distracted Driving Avoidance course. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, it’s best just to turn off your device when you are driving (or as we’re saying in our Drive Healthy Campaign, “Hands on the wheel. Mind on the road”).
 
Here are a few cases where the new law does not apply:  
  • When using hands-free or built-in devices, if you are 18 years of age or older.
  • Use of a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate the device.
  • When parked safely, i.e., stopped in a designated parking spot. - However, it is NOT legal to use the device when stopped at a stop light, stop sign, in traffic, etc.
  • While providing or summoning medical help and no one else is available to make the call.
  • To truck or bus drivers following the federal rules for CDL holders.
  • When using a two-way radio if you are a CB user, school bus driver, utility truck driver in scope of employment.
  • If you are a HAM radio operator age 18 years or older.
Violations updated, too
 
A first offense that doesn’t contribute to a crash is a Class B violation with a maximum fine of $1,000. A second offense, or if the first offense contributes to a crash, is Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,500. A third offense in ten years is a Class B misdemeanor and could result in a maximum fine of $2,500 fine and could be 6 months in jail.
 
For a first offense that does not contribute to a crash, the court may suspend the fine* if the driver completes an approved distracted driving avoidance class, and shows proof to the court, within four months. *Only the fine is suspended – the violation will still be recorded on the offender’s driving record.

For more details, please see the Distracted Driving Law Fact Sheet

​“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 2011-2015 there were 9,951 crashes resulting in 54 fatalities and 15,150 injuries caused by crashes involving a distracted driver in Oregon.
  • From 2011-2015 there were 917 crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities and 1,330 injuries caused by drivers reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
  • From 2011-2015 there were 110 crashes, resulting in 0 fatalities and 166 injuries caused by drivers ages 16 to 18 who was reported to have been using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
  • These crashes are underreported; convictions for this office during the same time frame totaled 94,099.

Cell Phone Fatalities, Injuries and Convictions Table 2011-2015

Reducing Distracted Driving In Oregon 2017 Statewide Report
Bend - Distracted Driving Survey 2015 Final Report
Roseburg - Distracted Driving Survey 2016 Final Report

​Alexxyss Therwhanger, age 19, was killed in a car crash on February 19, 2016 while she was driving home in eastern Oregon. Alexxyss was using her cell phone and lost control of her car, colliding with an oncoming vehicle and severely injuring two other people. Alexxyss would have just turned 20 on May 28, 2016. 

To make drivers aware of the serious consequences of distracted driving, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Police have produced a distracted driving TV PSA. The PSA features Alexxyss' mother in an effort to persuade drivers to pay attention and to drive without distractions, especially cell phones.  
 
 

 

Contact

Kelli Kapri, Program Manager

503-986-3293

Transportation Safety Division
ODOT-TLC Building, MS 3
4040 Fairview Industrial Drive SE
Salem, OR 97302-1142

 

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