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What you should know about Oregon’s new distracted driving law

Posted by on October 16th, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Distracted driver being distracted.jpg

Scofflaw.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our legal contributor Ray Thomas is an author and lawyer based in Portland.

On October 1, 2017, Oregon’s new distracted driving law went into effect. The law has an expanded scope and raises the penalties for violations. Here are a few things every Oregon bicycle rider should know about it.

People who walk and bike know all too well the risks drivers pose as they stare into screens and attempt to drive around us. Since we are not encapsulated inside a steel compartment looking at the world through safety glass, we see the shocking number of people who try to maneuver their cars and trucks down the streets while completely tuned out to anything but what is on the screen in front of them.

And the statistics confirm how deadly this behavior is: More than 4,000 crashes were caused by distraction in Oregon in 2014. And between 2011 and 2015 there were 54 fatalities and 15,150 injuries in Oregon caused by distracted drivers (see the Oregon Department of Transportation 2014 Oregon Traffic Crash Summary).

A recent ODOT study found that while 84% of respondents felt uncomfortable with a driver who was distracted, 75% admitted to doing it while alone and 44% admitted to driving distracted with passengers. Ask any rider on the street and the numbers seem far higher. The reasons are complex, but the study suggests that skewed reward-seeking behavior patterns exist due to several causes, most notably a lack of negative legal consequences or negative social pressure. Humans get a lot of useful and fun stuff by using mobile devices while driving; from instructions on where to go and how to get there, to checking in with loved ones, playing Angry Birds, or sending text messages.

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Technically legal; but it increases risks and could put you in hot water with a judge.

In our office we have a case where a pizza delivery driver was checking his Amazon order while he made the nightly cash run to the bank. While distracted by his phone he failed to see a person who had fallen (while walking) directly in front of him. The collision had fatal consequences. That one moment of inattention resulted in the loss of life of a father — and left behind a devastated family and a pregnant fiancé. The driver was charged and convicted of Careless Driving (with death of a Vulnerable Roadway User) and Distracted Driving — but those consequences do next to nothing to reconcile the disaster he caused. And the only reason he was charged was because a hard working motorcycle officer took the time to analyze his phone records. In most collisions, the distracted driving is never discovered because law enforcement investigation resources are stretched so thin.

The public health consequences of distracted driving are too vast to ignore. The ODOT study recommended stronger consequences and an increase in education and enforcement.

What the new law covers

House Bill 2597 created the changes to ORS 811.507 that greatly expands its application. The new law applies to any “mobile communication electronic device” that is “not permanently installed in a motor vehicle.” And the definition includes a “device capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.” The new law extends not just to moving but also to being “temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device or other momentary delays.” The exceptions include when making an emergency call or when pulled off the roadway or parked.

The list of prohibited actions includes using the device if the driver is not able to “keep both hand hands on the steering wheel.” Presumably, if the device is permanently built in to the motor vehicle or the driver is able to use it hands free then it is okay, which allows voice activation of a mobile device but only if the person is 18 years or older. However, in order to type in an address or query you have to pull over and park.

There is also a somewhat unclear exception built in to the law as it allows a person to “activate or deactivate” a device or “a function of the device” which has been described as including a “single touch or swipe.” It has been argued that this exception will allow Uber and Lyft drivers to swipe and accept a fare while driving, a legal assertion that has not yet been tested in court.

The consequences

For a first offense, there is a fine of $260. A Distracted Driving Course option, if offered, will reduce the fine but not make the conviction on the driver’s record go away. For a second offense or first offense which causes a crash, the fine goes up to $435. For the third offense in ten years, the charge becomes a Class B misdemeanor traffic crime which may include up to a six month sentence in the county jail. These are serious negative consequences. (Not to mention increases to the driver’s insurance policy.)

Does it apply to bicycle riders?

ORS 811.507 states that it applies to “operating” a “motor vehicle” on a “highway or premises open to the public.” While ORS 814.400 states that “a bicycle is a vehicle”, a bicycle is not a “motor vehicle.” By its terms of application, the new distracted driving law only applies to vehicles with motors. However a driver’s defense lawyer may still try to assert that a bicycle rider’s use of a mobile device was negligence and contributed to a collision with a motor vehicle.

Learn more about the law by watching this short video from the Beaverton Police Department (which unfortunately shows an officer looking away from the road to talk to the camera) and view this very clear and helpful PDF summary put out by the State of Oregon.

CORRECTION, 10/18 at 2:44 pm: This article originally stated the new law applies to any “mobile communication device”. That’s incorrect. The new law applies to any, “mobile electronic device”. We regret the error.

— Ray Thomas is a partner at Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost and author of Pedal Power: A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists.

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64 Comments
  • Middle of the Road Guy October 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I hope this gets enforced. Being in my late 40’s I think my generation might have been the last that did not have an electronic device available to us in our youth…and therefore not conditioned to be looking at it all the time.

    It’s dang near impossible for some people to put those things down. Hopefully, stiff fines will help with that!

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    • Kyle Banerjee October 16, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I see plenty of elderly people totally distracted by their phones. While senior citizens might not use them quite as much as their younger peers, enough of them do that I feel that distraction is a major issue for all demographics.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy October 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm

        I’m not saying we all don’t get distracted, I’m just saying it is easier to do without certain things when you did not grow up with them. I think younger people will have a more difficult time with this law than us elderly.

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        • Kittens October 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

          The whole generational-warfare thing on this and other issues is just a red herring. We are all prone to distraction. We are all paying the cost in lives and dollars for the inattention behind the wheel.

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          • are October 22, 2017 at 6:40 pm

            in fairness to middle of the road guy, what he is saying is that someone who has been acclimated from a young age to the device — which is addictive — will have a more difficult time letting go of it. it is true that distraction more generally, from a variety of sources, is a problem across all demographics, but the statute under discussion here relates only to these devivces.

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  • eawriste October 16, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Great news. Can speed/red light cameras allow police to prosecute a driver using a mobile communication device as well?

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  • bikeninja October 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    On Saturday I was on one of my rare car trips to move some furniture. During part of this trip I traveled west on Burnside from the near east side, all the way up to NW 23rd. Following very close behind me the entire way was a 20 something girl in a Maserati ( go figure) using her phone continuously. Traffic was slow but very erratic with pedestrians, cyclists, lane changes etc. The entire time the girl held her phone up in front of her face just above the steering wheel, and whenever she came to a stop she would take her hand off the wheel and tap on the keyboard. I think a draconian city-wide crackdown to enforce this law is needed.

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    • Lester Burnham October 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

      “in a Maserati ( go figure)” So what does this mean exactly?

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      • Kittens October 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Are Maserati owners now a protected class?

        He was just pointing out that owners of exotic cars tend to act flagrantly entitled. Probably because they know so long as they have a nice car, the police look the will look the other way. I have NEVER seen a newer model BMW pulled over… and we all know what courteous and sensible drivers they are.

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      • Chris I October 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        The highest rate of phone use I observe is among those driving luxury vehicles. I’m not going to draw any conclusions, just stating what I have observed.

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  • Matt M. October 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    If I’m reading it right, they changed using a hands-free device from being a straight exception into only being an affirmative defense. Weird.

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  • dan October 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Ray, since you’re here already 🙂 Quick question about the defective by design bike lane that runs south on Naito and has a weave lane for bikes to merge across car traffic right after the Morrison Bridge. The design is awful…if a cyclist is hit by a motorist there, do you think there are grounds for a lawsuit?

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  • Jim Lee October 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Why should a permanently installed visual device be acceptable?

    It is just as distracting as a hand-held device.

    We need to get all the “consumer” electronics out of motor vehicles.

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    • bikeninja October 16, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      I have often thought that if we were serious about the safety of vulnerable road users we would make the only allowable cars on the road to be the equivalent of a 1950’s Crosley convertables. Tiny cars with no roof, 35 hp, manual transmissions, skinny tires and no electronics at all. Simple metal boxes on wheels that keep the driver in touch with their surroundings, and minimize distractions. With modern engines they could have great gas mileage, and minimal co2 emissions. If we make cars like a “living room on wheels” complete with home entertainment center no wonder distracted driving is a problem.

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      • oliver October 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

        Manaul transmissions would go a long way toward reducing phone use behind the wheel.

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        • Dan A October 17, 2017 at 11:12 am

          When I bought a Honda Del Sol ~15 years ago, the seller drove me around in it while squeezing a large fountain drink between his legs, operating the pedals with both feet, holding a phone to his ear with his right hand, and reaching across his body to shift with his left hand. I don’t have nearly that level of coordination.

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          • CaptainKarma October 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

            That was my real estate agent. Drove us all over hell and back and rarely was ofc the phone.

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      • Ryan October 17, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        When I was stationed in Italy 10+ years ago, I remember seeing some nice-looking new vehicles some Italian friends of mine had. The outside looked like top-end trim packages, but on the inside it was quite basic. I asked one why there weren’t any cup holders in his brand new car, this seemed like a standard feature to me. He just laughed at my american arrogance/ignorance, and asked me why I would need to be drinking something while driving. And to oliver’s point, nearly all the vehicles I saw there had manual transmissions. This was another example I noticed during my time there that made me realize why U.S. service members over there were so much more likely to be involved in a serious accident than the local Italians.

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      • are October 22, 2017 at 6:42 pm

        get rid of the windscreen and you are really talking

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    • Matthew Denton October 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Without the exception the law would also apply to a regular old FM (or AM) radio. And while people can get distracted by those, that isn’t the main problem we are having. I also would guess that the car stereo lobby would have had some things to say about this law without the loophole, (where as this loophole works great for them.) And I don’t think it would help race relations in this country if the act of turning your stereo down could get you pulled over by the police, (cause it might not get enforced equally.)

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      • wsbob October 16, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        This law covers only two way communication devices. Doesn’t cover devices that receive only. Play any radio or recorded music device, no problem. Switching cd’s in cd players could be distracting, but this law doesn’t cover that type of device, given it’s not a communication device.

        Sounds like the market for Siri and Alexa type interactive devices is going to get better and better. People driving motor vehicles equipped with that type of technology could legally do all kinds of things using the web, check their email, order groceries, take out food, and on and on.

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        • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

          “This law covers only two way communication devices.”

          that’s incorrect… this new law applies to “an electronic device that is not permanently installed in a motor vehicle”… that means anything electronic that you can easily remove from the vehicle…

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          • wsbob October 17, 2017 at 9:55 am

            Could be. I re-read the law just now, but I might have made a mistake in understanding it. I’ll post the link to the law, again here. Read it for yourself. Same law Ray Thomas is referring to in his article:

            https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.507

            Notice the law is titled:

            “811.507¹ Operating motor vehicle while using mobile communication device”

            …and in part (1) of the law, the first two listed criteria for the law are:

            “…(1) As used in this section:

            (a) “Hands-free accessory” means an attachment or built-in feature for or an addition to a mobile communication device, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that when used allows a person to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

            (b) “Mobile communication device” means a text messaging device or a wireless, two-way communication device designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication. …” https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.507

            The law specifically refers to communication devices, not entertainment devices…though, and I haven’t looked over the laws this morning to find it, I think there is a separate law on Oregon’s books, or an element to some other law, specifying that it’s a violation for people driving, to watch television while driving. I don’t think people should be watching television while driving, entertainment programming in particular. Today’s technology advances though, are pushing the envelope so to say, as to what viewing of visual material on a screen is acceptable while driving.

            It’s fair to describe 811.507 with its amendments as a distracted driving law, but it’s not actually “… Oregon’s new distracted driving law…” . This is an pre-existing law that was amended to I think, clarify who could use ‘hands free communication devices’ while driving. People under 18 are not allowed to be using any communication device while drivikng. Goofing around with the phone in their hands at stop lights, by anyone driving a car, also is not allowed.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu October 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm

              I believe you are reading the old law. The online text at that link has not been updated. For the new law, read https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2597/Enrolled

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              • wsbob October 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

                ok…I see that the version of 811.507 that oregonlaws.org’s has posted, doesn’t include the bit about electronic devices capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.

                “…(A) “Mobile electronic device” means an electronic device that is not permanently in-stalled in a motor vehicle.

                (B) “Mobile electronic device” includes but is not limited to a device capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.

                (d) “Using a mobile electronic device” includes but is not limited to using a mobile elec-tronic device for text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail. …” https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2597/Enrolled

                Spiffy, it seems you’re right that the amended law excludes use of the named mobile electronic devices even if the device isn’t one designed for two way communication. Doesn’t seen to be the case if the device is a permanent installation. That’s not a big obstacle to overcome. Still sounds like voice interaction technology may allow a person driving to avoid being in violation of the law, as long as they’re not using their hands to operate the device.

                I’m kind of surprised that oregonlaws.org hasn’t yet updated the text of the law on that site, to reflect the amendment.

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              • wsbob October 17, 2017 at 11:50 pm

                I wrote an earlier response, but after looking again at House Bill 2597 you provided the link to, I see a couple other things I hadn’t thought of before. Number one, I’m wondering if the 2015 title of 811.507 ‘Operating motor vehicle while using mobile communication device’ will be changed to reflect the law as amended, now prohibiting the use of any electronic device while driving. To something like for example, from the first line of this bill:

                ‘operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device’

                (4) (b) appears to be the part of the law saying that hands free use of an electronic device would not have the person driving in violation of the law:

                “…(4) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution of a person under
                this section that the person:

                (a) [Uses] Used the mobile electronic device [for voice communication] to communicate
                if the person[:]

                [(d)](b)[Is]Was18 years of age or older and [is] was using a hands-free accessory; …”

                https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2597/Enrolled

                Formatting doesn’t copy and past here, like the original appears on the legislative website. If I understand correctly, text within the brackets is what will not be included in the new law.

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              • wsbob October 18, 2017 at 10:41 am

                The State of Oregon pdf, Thomas mentioned, about the provisions of the amended ORS 811.507, is easier to read and understand than the house bill, but does not clearly specify ‘mobile electronic device’ as HB 2597 does. This pdf does seem to imply that any electronic device can be used while driving, without violating the law, as long as the device can be operated hands free.

                This seems to mean that people driving definitely can use their mobile electronic device, phone, tablet, whatever, to make and take phone calls, order things online, etc, as long as they can do so hands free. Siri and Alexa type voice interaction technology, sound like the kind of thing that can make hands free use of mobile electronic devices while driving possible, and within the requirements of the law.

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            • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

              note at the top of that page it says “2015 ORS 811.507” because that’s when the page was updated… there are 3 versions of that page on the site, none are current…

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    • John Lascurettes October 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      We need to stop treating motor vehicles as rolling living rooms in general (at least until they’re 100% autonomous). NPR/OPB rand a story this morning about how “the commute” while stuck in traffic is a great time to listen to meditation and self-help apps. WTF? Talk about not concentrating on your driving!

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    • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 7:54 am

      yes, with the law as it is all you need to do is get an extra iPad and screw it onto your dash and then you’re legally allowed to use it…

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    • Tim October 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

      When I bought my last car 15 years ago, the salesman pointed out that all the controls could be operated wearing mittens. Nice feature. Radio and heater can be operated without looking. Now cars have touch screens that requires the driver to navigate through a menu to turn on the heat. Just plain stupid.

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  • Ben October 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the info Ray. How would the new law apply to people riding an e-assist bike? For some other laws they seem to exist both as a bike and a motor vehicle. Also, do ebike laws depend on if the assist function is in use, or are they applicable at all times? Thanks!

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    • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 7:55 am

      if the bike has an electric motor then this law applies…

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      • CaptainKarma October 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm

        I sure as hell hope so

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      • Ben October 17, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        My non-lawyer understanding is that since this is in the vehicle code (in the ORS), then it would not apply to electric assisted bicycles (defined in ORS 801.258). This is because ebikes are considered a bicycle instead of a motor vehicle unless specifically provided otherwise (ORS 814.405).

        I seem to recall from another Bike Portland discussion that this treatment of ebikes does not extend to the OARs, which was (for example) why in the recent transportation bill ebikes are taxed through the “privilege fee” vs. the bike tax. However a re-reading of the original post is clear that the distracted driving law is in the ORS vehicle code, so I guess I’ve answered my own question… although a second opinion is always welcome.

        Even if this were not the case, I would hope that enforcement for bicyclists would be a low priority. For those specifically concerned about distracted ebiking, recall that by law the motor cannot work at speeds greater than 20 mph. For the purposes of this discussion the dynamics of ebikes are similar to what can be achieved by any bike on a downhill (and many bicyclists on flat ground).

        In any case, glad to see these loopholes in the law get addressed. Here’s hoping we see tons of voluntary compliance 🙂

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  • Zack Kosta October 16, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I see many people making videos of themselves while driving.
    Is that not considered Distracted Driving?
    This new law needs to be more encompassing.

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  • bendite October 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Middle of the Road Guy
    I’m not saying we all don’t get distracted, I’m just saying it is easier to do without certain things when you did not grow up with them. I think younger people will have a more difficult time with this law than us elderly.
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    I’ve seen more than one research article suggesting older people use their phone more than younger people while driving.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy October 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Perhaps. But I am going with my own experiences on this one…e.g, who comes close to hitting me the most.

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      • resopmok October 17, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        There are many variables involved, one of them being experience with the skill being demonstrated. Which do you think have more experience behind the wheel, older or younger drivers (in general)?

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  • todd boulanger October 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Yes…I hope this law is enforced…just today while I was riding a bike downhill at speed (>20 mph in a 25) a driver on the phone passed me by driving through an opposing lane (the road had just changed from 2 lanes in a school zone to 1 lane) and I was in the one through lane…the traffic signal 500 feet ahead was red so we caught up to her as she waited and she was still on the phone.

    Then after moving through the now green traffic signal another driver passed us by driving through the opposing left turn lane (this was in a congested prewar commercial neighborhood)…he could not wait for use to ride 400 feet in order to park and buy his pot…so when we caught up to him…I asked him if our lives (and potentially his) were worth a convenient front door parking space. His attitude was emphatically yes…and he may have been on the phone / using GPS to find this over busy pot shop.

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    • wsbob October 17, 2017 at 12:49 am

      In Beaverton, I’ve seen some very impatient, irrational behavior by pot shot customers driving for a resupply. Specifically near the intersection of Walker Rd and Canyon Rd. Just west of the intersection is a big pot shop.

      From behind, one guy came charging down the short steep hill on Walker towards Canyon, swung around me quick just before I got to the intersection, he then just made the yellow caution for a right turn to go a couple hundred feet more for the center turn lane and a left into the pot shop parking lot. I mean, c’mon…all that hurrying just to get a hit of pot? I happened to be close to this intersection when another couple other, separate, but very similar examples of people driving like this to the pot shop occurred. Markedly more strange and irrational than anyone else on the road at the time, or generally.

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  • 9watts October 16, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Jim Lee
    We need to get all the “consumer” electronics out of motor vehicles.
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    I wonder what it will take to accomplish this perfectly reasonable suggestion?

    Just because it seems inconceivable today doesn’t mean it couldn’t come to pass one day.

    No Idaho stop for you, you scofflaw bikers,

    ….but we’re going to devise a handful of exceptions for the adults who need to take care of business while in their autos.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 17, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Ray, suppose the phone is held in a (non permanent) mount, located close to the steering wheel, such that the adult driver can operate the phone while keeping some fingers of his hand on the wheel. Seems a reasonable reading of the statute is that the mount is a hands free accessory and the use of the mount is an alternative defense.

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    • resopmok October 17, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      I’m pretty sure the main problem of distraction lies not with the hands, but with the eyes. Are you looking where you need to look? Are you paying attention to the road? Are you reading the situation outside your windshield? If not, it’s a problem.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu October 17, 2017 at 10:20 pm

        Agreed. I’m interested in finding a legal way to use my phone for nav and music.

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      • wsbob October 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm

        This question about legality of using mobile electronic devices while driving, is why I mentioned earlier about using devices with voice interaction technology.

        If a person that’s going to drive, sets their phone somewhere in the vehicle, and is able to operate it entirely without looking at it or touching it, just with their voice and ears, still allowing them to keep their eyes on the road, I wonder if this would be legal under the law.

        People already use ear pieces to receive calls, I think. Never used one, don’t know first hand. Not easy to even see that someone has one on.

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  • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 7:49 am

    the consequences don’t include losing your license? that seems odd…

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  • Jonathan Radmacher October 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Does “motor vehicle” include an e-bike, or a powered scooter?

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    • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      yes, because it has an electric motor…

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  • CaptainKarma October 17, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    A person interacting with a device while driving a motor vehicle is basically drunk. There is no way to justify it. My master’s research in psychology also shows that it isn’t a handheld problem. It’s the brain not being 100% engaged with the environment regardless of the physical modality. Dash-mounted devices mean very little difference in cognitive resource costs. Might even cost more in some instances. It’s a BRAIN problem, not a device problem.
    Eyes on the road. All the time!

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  • Kittens October 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for the recap Ray.

    Does anyone know if it is possible in Oregon for police to do systematic stops? Like where one officer acts as a spotter while another serves the citation?

    I would love to see this happen. I would actually pay to watch them just stand at a corner and pick people off one by one.

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    • Dan A October 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      “The plainclothes deputies stood on the sidewalk at intersections as “spotters” and would then tip-off other deputies when they saw violations.”

      https://bikeportland.org/2017/10/13/undercover-distracted-driving-sting-leads-to-107-stops-in-just-5-hours-246830

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    • bikeninja October 17, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Years ago driving in Connecticut they had a speeding enforcement action on the Highway from Mass. They had a fixed radar cop, 6 chasers who stopped cars and gave out tickets and a big step van a few hundred yards down the road with a window where the cited speeders could pay their fines or schedule a court date if they wanted to contest the fine. From what I could see 90% just lined up and payed the fine. We should do this with distracted driving enforcement, assembly line efficiency for maximum revenue to the city.

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    • Spiffy October 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      typically the one who saw the offense is the one who needs to sign the ticket… so unless the spotter comes to court then the issuing officer has no case…

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  • wsbob October 18, 2017 at 10:19 am

    “…Learn more about the law by watching this short video from the Beaverton Police Department (which unfortunately shows an officer looking away from the road to talk to the camera) …” ray thomas

    Interesting. Actually, the officer featured in the Beaverton police video is looking back and forth between the road and I presume, the person holding a camera in the passenger’s seat. Seems to me to be a good job of keeping his eye on the road. Considering also, the traffic situation, which I believe is Griffith Parkway: short loop road, maybe a half mile in length total, that goes past the police dept, and office buildings. Very low traffic most hours of the day.

    I thought maybe the dept would have hired a dolly to tow the car for the shoot as is done in a lot of video and film production, to have it look like the person behind the wheel is driving though they’re actually not, but the way he’s moving the steering wheel, it does tend to look as though he’s actually driving the car. Probably no more than about 15mph though.

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    • Dan A October 18, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      “Considering also, the traffic situation, which I believe is Griffith Parkway: short loop road, maybe a half mile in length total, that goes past the police dept, and office buildings. Very low traffic most hours of the day.”

      They are driving on Greenbrier Parkway, to the northwest of the Tualatin Hills Rec Center — the first building we see is the Fox 12 building. My kids and I like to put around over there on our skateboards, and we frequently encounter people walking & biking there, because it’s generally quiet on the weekends. Regardless, a driver who was probably guessing at the expected level of traffic in a given time & location killed Tamar Monhait. It’s dangerous to make that kind of assumption.

      “Probably no more than about 15mph though.”

      Because why? It looks to me like 25 or 30.

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      • wsbob October 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

        Dan…if what you think the Beav police dept was doing to make this video, bothers you so much, let them know. Go over to Griffith Parkway and talk to them.

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        • Dan A October 22, 2017 at 7:28 pm

          I didn’t start the criticism of this ad, I’m just responding to your odd defense of it, where you suggest that they are on a specific road where it might be okay to only pay partial attention to the road, or that they might not actually be driving, or that they are driving slower than it appears. If you’re going to talk like a spokesperson for the police department, perhaps you should go over to Griffith Parkway and apply for a job.

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          • wsbob October 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

            Dan, you’re criticizing the video. It’s not an ad, it’s a public information video on the amended law, which no other organization seems to have gotten around to producing. Where’s Ray Thomas’s or his law firm’s video, or the Portland Police Dept, or the state of Oregon’s? Or bikeportlands?

            The City of Beaverton produced a video, which even Thomas suggests as a source to learn more about the law, even though he seemed to feel he had to complain about the officer driving, alternately the direction of his eyes from the road to the camera for 3, maybe 4 seconds at a time at most.

            Do yourself or Thomas, while driving never look away from the road for 3, maybe 4 seconds at a time at most to a person in the passenger seat of the vehicle you’re driving? Do you keep your eyes riveted to the road at all times, never looking for more than a second into the passenger compartment of the vehicle?

            Actually, I think most people seeing the vid, would feel the officer did a creditable job of watching the road well, checking in with radio calls, and interacting with what very likely was a person holding the camera, as opposed to the camera just mounted some way on the seat of the car. A good job of mult-tasking, not a whole lot different from the type of multi-tasking most people do while using the road while driving, biking, skateboarding and so on.

            I couldn’t tell for sure what road the vid was produced on, so I guessed it was Griffith Parkway, I didn’t suggest that was the road. It would make sense to use that road, because that’s where the police dept is, and it’s just a short loop road with little traffic on which 15 or twenty mph is reasonable.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    just FYI:

    CORRECTION, 10/18 at 2:44 pm: This article originally stated the new law applies to any “mobile communication device”. That’s incorrect. The new law applies to any, “mobile electronic device”. We regret the error.

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  • Joe October 23, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    So, what about navigation with a GPS unit? If someone is at a STOP LIGHT and zooms in with their Garmin to see which turn is coming up, can they be cited for distracted driving if this is seen by a plainclothes cop on the sidewalk? This seems like an unbalanced law.

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