What is Distracted Driving?
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.
Updated Oregon Distracted Driving Law
2017-2018 Legislature updates Oregon’s distracted driving law
Also referred to as the cell phone law, went into effect October 1, 2017
Oregon’s basic law says it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (e.g. cell phone, tablet, GPS, laptop). As of January 1, 2018, courts have the ability to 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 to just turn off your device when you are driving.
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. 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.
- Tow 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 $2,000. 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
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.
Alexxyss’ crashed car was enclosed in a trailer
to spread awareness about distracted driving and encourage others to drive without distractions. The distracted driving trailer is available statewide, for more information contact 541-963-1387.