SALEM – One glance at your cell phone while driving can lead to tragedy – for you, your passengers, other drivers and people outside your car.
There were 1,920 crashes causing 20 fatalities in Oregon from 2015 through 2019 involving a driver using a cell phone, as well as 1,880 injuries.
Cell phones aren’t the only distraction to driving. During that five-year period, all distractions – including cell phones – were a factor in 23,783 crashes resulting in 158 fatalities and 23,403 injuries in Oregon.
We know that distracted driving is vastly underreported in crash statistics; drivers are reluctant to include it in crash reports and it is difficult for law enforcement to detect.
These are preventable tragedies. Consider how you would feel if you were the driver in one of those crashes – the one picking up your phone or responding to a text, then crashing and killing someone.
During the month of April, there will be distracted driving high visibility enforcement statewide to prevent these tragedies.
“When you’re behind the wheel, there is nothing more important than paying attention,” said Kelly Kapri, Distracted Driving Program Manager for ODOT. “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.”
Save lives every time you drive by keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
What is distracted driving?
Distraction occurs when a driver voluntarily diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver’s eyes, ears, hands or mind. There are four types of driver distraction:
- Visual – Looking at something other than the road.
- Auditory – Hearing something not related to driving.
- Manual – hands on 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.
Penalties even without a crash
Even if you think you can check your cell phone while driving, remember that in Oregon it is illegal to use a handheld mobile electronic device while driving. A first offense without a crash can cost up to a $1,000 fine; later convictions can result in fines up to $2,500 and six months in jail.