Distracted driving has long been illegal, whether it’s messing with the radio or applying makeup.
But as of July 1, the fines are increasing and could lead to jailtime for repeat offenders.
Oregon Highway Safety Manager Traci Pearl said the law prohibits drivers from using any electronic device not permanently installed in the vehicle, “You’re allowed one quick swipe to deactivate a function of the device. Or activate a function of the device, like GPS. But that’s it.”
So it’s illegal to return a text or check Facebook, even when you’re stopped at a red light.
First-time violators face a $1,000 fine. That jumps to $2,500 for a second offense. And repeat offenders can get up to six months in jail.
Oregon has seen an increase in traffic deaths over the last year.
The state Department of Transportation believes drivers focused on cell phones, rather than driving, could be a contributing factor, “Distractions occur in many ways, and Oregon’s law stresses the need to put your electronic devices aside,” said Troy Costales, ODOT’s transportation safety division manager.
“What a driver must do is commit to keeping hands on the wheel, mind on the road.”