Police officers and sheriff's deputies in in Columbia County and across the state are joining a national law enforcement effort this week to pull over distracted drivers.
By the numbers
Over a five-year period in Oregon, 18 people died in crashes involving a driver using a cell phone.
Distracted driving, including being distracted by a phone, contributed to the deaths of 137 people total in Oregon from 2014 – 2018, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
“When you’re behind the wheel, there is nothing more important than paying attention,” ODOT Distracted Driving Program Manager Kelly Kapri. “If you let something distract you, you could end up in a serious or deadly crash. And it might not be others hurt or killed – it could be you.”
In Oregon, it is illegal to use a handheld mobile electronic device while driving. A first offense without a crash can earn up to a $1,000 fine. Later convictions can result in fines up to $2,500 and six months in jail. See specific information online at oregonlaws.org/ors/811.507
In support of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, public awareness campaigns are being launched and law enforcement agencies across Oregon will operate high visibility enforcement activities throughout the month, funded by grants from ODOT’s Safety Division.
What is distracted driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes driving distractions has specific types of inattention that occur when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on other activity instead.
Distraction occurs when a driver voluntarily diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver's eyes, ears, hands and mind. There are four types of driver distraction:
- Visual – Looking at something other than the road.
- Auditory – Hearing something not related to driving.
- Manual – Manipulating something other than the wheel.
- Cognitive – Thinking about something other than driving.
Most distractions involve more than one of these types, with both a sensory – eyes, ears, or touch – and a mental component, mind.
On April 8, a distracted driving crackdown, “Connect 2 Disconnect,” will involve thousands of agencies nationwide, including Oregon. For a four-hour period, personnel will be out in force, helping to ensure drivers focus on safe driving.
Learn more about distracted driving at oregon.gov/odot/safety/pages/distracted.aspx