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Fines And Penalties Increase For Oregon's Distracted Drivers Starting July 1st

Lord Jim

Penalties for distracted driving will get costlier in Oregon, starting next month. KLCC’s Brian Bull explains.

State law prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while operating a vehicle, which includes smart phones, tablets, music players, and even laptop computers.

Starting next month, a first-time offender faces a fine up to $1,000, and $2500 for a second offense or first-time offense leading to a crash.

Credit Oregon State Police
A 2011 crash near Hermiston claimed the driver's life. Officials say they believe the man was trying to place a call when he went over the center line and into a head-on crash.

Kelly Capri of the Oregon Department of Transportation says this is all to reinforce the message that drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel, and their focus on the road.

“From this time last year, there has been a 17.8% increase in fatalities," says Capri. 

"The majority of those are roadway departure deaths, and the majority of those are from distracted driving.”

Repeat violators can get up to six months in jail and a $2500 fine for a third offense within a decade.

Exceptions include two-way radios for school bus drivers, and emergency response personnel on-duty.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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