Oregon transportation officials want to convince people to put away cell phones while driving. A new study released last week says distracted driving is a deadly epidemic in the state.
In Oregon, on average, more than 11 people die in crashes each year and nearly 3,000 are injured due to inattentive driving, according to the state Department of Transportation. A study conducted last month by Southern Oregon University found three quarters of drivers in the state admit to driving while distracted, usually by their cell phone.
Fuller: “At the same time, Oregonians told us they were uncomfortable, very uncomfortable when they are riding in a car where someone is distracted.”
Tom Fuller is with ODOT. He says distracted driving affects everyone on the road.
Fuller: “I myself, for instance, was almost creamed by a semi the other day. Driving down the highway, the semi came over the line. I could see him looking down at his cell phone as he was driving. Now, fortunately for me, he realized what he was doing in time and got back in his lane.”
ODOT will launch an awareness campaign aimed at changing the culture of driving so it’s socially unacceptable to use a cell phone while behind the wheel. It may include higher fines for driving while using a cell phone.