FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-05-11
In 2011, an estimated 3,000 U.S. fatalities resulted from driver distraction. From applying makeup to yelling at the kids in the backseat, any type of distraction can be deadly on the road. But, one particular form of distraction behind the wheel has recently been targeted by transportation officials: the use of cell phones and similar mobile devices.
Texting, Talking On a Handheld Device Prohibited For Drivers in Oregon
Whether or not a law has been violated, any time a driver’s inattentiveness causes an accident, there can be repercussions: injured victims, usually with the help of an Oregon distracted driving law firm, may collect compensation from the at-fault party or his or her insurer. Some states, however, including Oregon, have taken a stronger stance against texting while driving and other irresponsible cell phone use by enacting specific traffic code provisions addressing the issue.
To date, 38 states ban text messaging for all drivers. Oregon and nine other states take it a step further by banning handheld cell phone use of any type (talking or texting) for all drivers. In Oregon, although most drivers are permitted to use a hands-free cellular device to talk while driving, motorists under the age of 18 cannot use any cell phone of any kind while operating a motor vehicle. A violation of Oregon’s cell phone restrictions is a Class D offense with a base rate fine of $110 for 2012.
Ray LaHood Pushes Beefed-Up Nationwide Cell Phone Ban
Many believe that distracted driving laws like Oregon’s make the roads safer for everyone. Perhaps the loudest voice in favor of anti-cell phone legislation is U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
In an unprecedented move on April 26, LaHood called for a federal law that would ban talking on a cell phone or texting while driving. That would mean no talking — whether hands free or handheld — and no texting while driving, no matter the type of vehicle, on any road in the United States. Secretary LaHood has always been an outspoken critic of distracted driving, but this is the first time an official at his level has proposed a complete ban on behind the wheel cell phone use.
Not everyone is onboard with LaHood. “It shouldn’t matter if the driver is distracted by a conversation with another vehicle passenger, tuning the radio, eating a snack, or talking on a cell phone,” Gary Biller, president of the National Motorists Association told Reuters news service. “Existing laws cover all those distractions and more.” Rather than promoting a new nationwide cell phone ban, Biller believes it would be more productive to invest resources in campaigns that discourage distracted driving in general.
Get Legal Help If You’ve Been Injured by a Distracted Driver
It remains to be seen whether Secretary LaHood’s proposal will move forward. But, the national dialogue has made one thing is clear: distractive driving is dangerous. If you have been injured by an inattentive driver, do your part to discourage distracted driving by contacting an Oregon car accident attorney and pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver.