Many car accidents happen because drivers took their eyes off the road for a brief moment to double-check their directions, dial a phone number, or read a text message. All it takes is one distracted moment to send a car veering somewhere it shouldn’t be. The consequences for distracted driving can extend to other people as well. Car crashes happening due to someone swiping or tapping something on a smartphone are very common. It’s dangerous for drivers to take their eyes off the road. Staying alert and remaining cautious on the roads is the best way to help prevent fatal accidents.
As of October 1st, 2017, a new law will commence in Oregon. The previous law in place about distracted driving was only about texting and calling specifically. This loophole meant that drivers could still legally check their social media and take photos while driving.
What is distracted driving?
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) suggests that, “distraction occurs when a driver voluntarily 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. Examples could include: looking at a phone, tablet, navigation system, map, or in-car video display.
- Auditory — hearing something not related to driving. Examples could include: listening to a call on a phone or Bluetooth, listening to a car stereo, or engaging in conversation with a passenger.
- Manual — manipulating something other than the wheel. Examples could include: playing with the car stereo or controls, typing a phone number into a phone, sending text messages, or interacting with a navigation system.
- Cognitive — thinking about something other than driving. Examples could include: thinking about work or personal matters.
According to ODOT, most distractions involve more than one of these types, with both a sensory — eyes, ears, or touch — and a mental component. Most distracted driving in Oregon consists of cell phone use and texting while driving.
Distracted Driving Statistics for Oregon
From the years 2010-2014, vehicle crashes involving drivers of all ages who were distracted or inattentive caused a total of 16,987 crashes. Of those, 58 were fatal crashes and 14,186 people were injured.
1,419 crashes involved used of a cell phone, 15 crashes resulted in fatalities, and 1,175 people were injured. Of the 131 crashes that involved a driver age 16-18 years of age using a cell phone, there were 120 people injured.
There were 88,626 convictions for the offense of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Laws and Penalties in Oregon
Distracted driving is currently a Class B violation in Oregon with a $160 fine ($1,000 maximum). The second offense is a Class A violation. The minimum fine is $220 and the maximum is $2,500. The third offense (if it takes place within ten years) is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. The minimum fine is $2,000. There is a possibility for jail time. However, if the driver contributed to a crash, fines and penalties may change.
Currently, the law states that all devices must be able to be operated hands-free. With this in mind, there are plenty of products marketed towards encouraging safer driving habits. Mounting your phone on a gadget which hooks into your car vents can work in a pinch. Most cars are enabled with Bluetooth. Do whatever you can in order to avoid using your phone while on the road.
Defenses to Distracted Driving Violations and Crimes
Things are not always as they seem. While nearly everyone has a smartphone nowadays, you may not have been using yours if you were pulled over and cited for distracted driving.
If you’ve been charged with a distracted driving violation or crime, contact our office. There are defenses available to the charge and we can discuss further options with you. An experienced attorney will be able to skillfully fight for your defense.