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Anything that can divert a driver’s attention from the task of operating a motor vehicle, possibly contributing to a collision, is a driving distraction. A distracted driving accident can affect you even if you are not in the same vehicle. You may be at risk of a collision with a distracted driver as a pedestrian, cyclist or driver of a different vehicle.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, of the 13,603 distracted driving crashes that occurred statewide between 2014 and 2018 and caused injuries and/or fatalities, 1,193 involved drivers specifically using cell phones. They resulted in injuries to 1,752 people and at least 18 fatalities. As of 2017, Oregon has updated its state law to specifically address the issue of cell phones as a driving distraction.

What does the updated law say?

With a few exceptions, the law prohibits Oregon drivers from using handheld electronic devices while driving. This includes GPS, laptops and tablets, as well as cell phones.

What are the exceptions to the law?

Professional drivers who must use cell phones or other electronic communication devices in the scope of employment may make use of them while driving, provided that they comply with other applicable regulations. The law does not apply when using the phone is necessary to summon medical help in an emergency situation.

Though the law prohibits the use of handheld devices, if you are over the age of 18, you can make use of built-in devices and hands-free systems, and the law does not penalize you for activating or deactivating the device with a single swipe or touch. The law does not permit you to use an electronic device while stopped in traffic, e.g., at a red light. However, you are free to use a device with your car parked safely in a designated parking spot.

With the increase of technology in our world, it’s important for people to use them both legally and safely to ensure all of us arrive to our destinations as safely as possible.