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Distracted Driving Recap

Legislative Days
It was great to be back in the Capitol again this week during Legislative Days. My schedule was booked with committee hearings, lobby meetings, and in-district meetings.
In the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, we heard from the new Department of Human Services Director, Fariborz Pakseresh. Additionally, in the House Committee on Judiciary, we learned more about the Equifax Data Breach from the Department of Justice and the Department of Consumer and Business Services. In 2017, I introduced HB 2581 which would bring more accountability to the data holder for breaches. For example, Equifax was aware of the breach on July 29th, but waited to announce the breach publicly until September. This bill would create better standards for data holders to follow. Since HB 2581 failed to pass in 2017, do you think the bill should be re-introduced in 2018? Let me know where you stand on this issue. 
Hope you all have a great Fall! Please feel free to contact my office if you need any assistance. As always, thank you for the support.

ACC Luncheon with Sec. of State Dennis Richardson and Commissioner Roger Nyquist.
Visiting with Rep. Greg Smith about the Albany-Millersberg intermodal hub.

HB 2597...Distracted Driving. I spent nearly a year involved in a workgroup consisting of members from the Oregon Department of Transportation, judges, law enforcement, and other interested parties developing this policy. 
Oregon's cell phone law, ORS 811 .507, was written in such a way that it was misinterpreted and included too many exceptions making it difficult to educate and enforce. For example, the law prohibited the driver from texting and using a cell phone except for a hands-free environment, but did not restrict the driver from scrolling through Facebook or checking emails. In 2015, the Oregon Court of Appeals, State vs Rabanales-Ramos, identified four other issues that created enforcement difficulties. As a result, the workgroup was created.
HB 2597 goes into effect on October 1, 2017. 
I feel it necessary to highlight some parts of the new policy as I have seen numerous inaccuracies reported from several media sources.  The new policy dealing with electronic devices is fairly simple...the driver cannot operate a motor vehicle while holding any type of electronic device. A driver may use their cell phone if it involves a hands-free accessory meaning an attachment or built-in feature or an addition to a mobile electronic device that when used gives a person the ability to keep both hands on the steering wheel. There are a few exceptions (see below).
  • The first offense within a ten-year period, not contributing to a crash is a Class B violation...the minimum fine is $130.00. 
  • The second offense or contributes to an accident is a Class A violation...the minimum fine being $220.00.
  • The third offense within ten years is a Class B misdemeanor. This carries a minimum mandatory fine of $2,000, and the possibility of serving six months in jail.
For a first offense that does not contribute to a crash, the court may suspend the fine if the driver completes an approved distracted driving avoidance course, and shows proof to the court, within four months. Only the fine is suspended - the violation will remain on the driver's DMV record.
Final thoughts...
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes. One out of four crashes are caused by distracted drivers.
AT&T's slogan IT CAN WAIT...is a great moto to follow.

  • When using hands-free or built-in devices, if 18 years of age or older.
  • Use of a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate the device or a function.
  • While providing or summoning medical help and no one else is available to make the call.
  • When parked safely, i.e., stopped at the side of the road or in a designated parking spot.  It is NOT legal to use the device when stopped at a stop light, stop sign, in traffic, etc.
  • Truck or bus drivers following the federal rules for CDL holders.
  • Using a two-way radio: CB users, school bus drivers, utility truck drivers in the scope of employment.
  • Ambulance or emergency vehicle operators in the scope of employment.
  • Police, fire, EMS providers in the scope of employment, (can include when in a personal vehicle if, for example, when responding to an emergency call).
  • HAM radio operators, age 18 years or older.