Driver Beware: New Distracted Driving Laws Limit Use of Mobile Devices
Do you regularly check Facebook at stoplights? If so, it’s time to put the phone down. The Oregon legislature recently voted House Bill 2597 into law creating stricter distracted driving laws related to the use of mobile electronic devices. The change allows law enforcement to cite drivers who are engaged in activities on their devices beyond texting and talking.
The new law makes it illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device such as a cell phone, tablet, GPS or laptop. Individuals may use a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate a device or a function. For example, if it is safe to do so, you may swipe your phone to turn off the navigation system, but you aren’t allowed to input the address. In order to be in compliance with the law, you must pull over and park safely at the side of the road or in a designated parking spot to use the phone for other functions besides activation and deactivation. These laws apply to drivers stopped at a stoplight, stop sign or in traffic.
Hands-free or built in devices that allow a person to keep both hands on the steering wheel are permitted for users over 18 years old.
If you need to contact 9-1-1 for emergency assistance, you can use your device to do so if there is no passenger present who is capable of making that call.
There are exceptions afforded to individuals employed in certain professions such as emergency personnel.
These laws are needed due to the significant number of injuries and deaths related to distracted driving. Please remember that anything that takes your eyes of the road, hands off the wheel or mind off what you are doing is a distraction. Please consider your safety and others’ wellbeing while driving.
To learn more about the law, exceptions and related penalties, visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Safety/Documents/HB2597_Summary_for_Public.pdf