Studies have shown that using a cellphone while driving or reading text messages behind the wheel can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration driver distraction was a factor in 12% of vehicle crashes in 2004. By 2008 the figure had risen to just over 16%. Despite these results, 26% of drivers admit to sending texts while driving. And teenagers are the largest group of drivers who regularly text while driving, with 33% of all adolescents aged 16-17 admitting to text messaging while driving. The inexperience of young drivers is already puts them and other drivers at risk. Adding a phone to the mix simply makes the situation even more dangerous.
In January 2010 Oregon joined the growing list of states that ban using a hand held cellphone to talk or text while driving. The “NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING BILL” will authorize police to pull over drivers they observe operating a cell phone with their hands while driving. “Hands-free” devices will still be allowed, but texting while driving, or talking on a cell phone that is not hands-free while driving, will both be illegal.
Oregon’s distracted driving ban allows drivers 18 and over to operate a motor vehicle and use a phone provided that they also use a hands-free device (such as a headset). Drivers under 18 are barred from using a cellphone while behind the wheel, even with a headset.
All drivers, regardless of age, are forbidden to text while driving. In the case of both calling and texting the law allows for “primary enforcement”, meaning a police officer or other law enforcement official can pull you over solely for violating the distracted driving ban. Oregon law allows for fines of up to $90 for distracted driving and categorizes the offense as a Class D traffic violation. If someone chooses to text while driving, they don’t just endanger themselves, they also endanger other drivers on the road who are being responsible. And as a Oregon Car Accident Attorneys a who sees up close the catastrophic devastation that a car wreck can bring down upon an injured person, we feel this decision was long overdue.
For Peggy Tucker of Canby, who watched from the Senate gallery, the vote was a personal victory. Tucker’s 30-year-old daughter, Angela, died in a car accident in 2007 when a driver talking on a cell phone hit her head-on. The driver of the other car also died, and the wreck hospitalized Tucker’s son-in-law and young grandchildren.
Tucker tearfully greeted the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, after the vote. I know that lives are going to be saved, and that’s what I wanted,” Tucker said. “Angela is looking down on me from heaven and saying, ‘Way to go, Mom.'”
If you have been injured in an accident and believe the other driver was texting while driving , please call the Oregon Car Accident Attorneys at Black, Chapman, Petersen and Stevens at 800-525-2099. We can help you examine the facts, decide whether driver distraction was a factor in the accident and whether that may entitle you to be compensated for any injuries you may have suffered or wages you’ve lost.
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