distracted driving

ODOT invites reporters to drive distracted

by on April 11th, 2018 at 10:58 am

Unfortunately, not on a closed course.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has just announced a novel way to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Billed as “Your chance to drive distracted,” they’ve invited the media to join them tomorrow at a local race track where reporters can hop in a specially-outfitted car to get a deeper understanding of how distraction impacts driving. While this issue is certainly no laughing matter, I had to chuckle at the idea that anyone who drives regularly needs a special chance to drive distracted — as if they’ve never done it before!

The event will happen just north of the Kenton Neighborhood at Portland International Raceway.

Here’s ODOT’s pitch:

“We invite media to talk with safety officials, law enforcement, safety advocates and survivors from Oregon and Washington. The Oregon Driver Education Center will provide three driving courses reporters can test: a distracted driving course, an EZ drift car and an accelerator car, which gauges response time. Representatives from Oregon Impact, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough and U-TURN 180 will be available to comment. ODOT Director Matt Garrett, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Regional Administrator Greg Frederickson and Washington Traffic Safety Commission Media Relations Manager Shelly Baldwin will provide opening comments.”

[Read more…]

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

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).
[Read more…]

Undercover distracted driving sting leads to 107 stops in just 5 hours

by on October 13th, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Like shooting fish in a barrel.
(Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

Just how rampant is dangerous driving and law-breaking among drivers? Our latest example comes from Washington County where sheriff deputies in Aloha went undercover to help educate the public about Oregon’s new hands-free driving law.

In five hours of work they stopped 73 people for violating the new law, passing out 11 citations and 62 warnings.

The Sheriff’s office called it a “non-traditional enforcement mission” (they prefer “mission” instead of sting) because they used undercover deputies. The plainclothes deputies stood on the sidewalk at intersections as “spotters” and would then tip-off other deputies when they saw violations.

Oregon’s new distracted driving law (HB 2597) went into effect October 1st (we have an in-depth post about it from our legal expert Ray Thomas coming Monday). It covers many more behaviors than the old law (which only focused on cell phones) and also applies when you are stopped in traffic.
[Read more…]

ODOT’s new safe driving competition will use app that locks phone screen while driving

by on August 1st, 2017 at 11:05 am

The app shows this screen when a car is in motion.

At this point the State of Oregon seems willing to try anything to change our dangerous culture of distracted driving.

To take a bite out of an alarming rise in traffic deaths last year — the 495 people who died was a 58 percent rise from 2013 — the Oregon Department of Transportation convened a task force and purchased unmarked patrol cars, published a report on the “epidemic”, and most recently the legislature acted to tighten a loophole in our existing distracted driving law.

Their latest effort will rely on friendly competition. Drive Healthy is the name of an initiative announced today that will pit individuals and organizations against each other to see who can be the safest driver. Similar to the Bike Commute Challenge, people will sign up online and have their results tracked via the Livesaver app and results will be posted on a public leaderboard. Once downloaded, the app runs in the background and automatically locks your phone when you drive (see screenshot at right). The fewer times you unlock the phone, the more points you get. The only functions available while driving are “Emergency Call” and “Passenger Unlock”.

Here’s more from ODOT and the DriveHealthy.org website:[Read more…]

Phone use study finds Oregon drivers are “least distracted” in America

by on April 18th, 2017 at 9:22 am

Using a cell phone while driving is a dangerous, selfish, and illegal behavior that has become far too common.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)


via Streetsblog USA

A company that uses sensors in smartphones to study driving behavior has revealed startling — yet unsurprising — facts about Americans’ selfish attitudes while behind the wheel of their cars: People use their phones during 88 out of 100 trips. When extrapolated out for the entire U.S. population, that number shoots up to about 600 million distracted trips per day.

In what they bill as the “largest and most robust driver phone use study done to date on the planet,” Zendrive analyzed three million drivers and 570 million trips over a three-month period.

While what they found is unnerving to say the least, Oregon drivers came in as the “least distracted” in the entire country. By calculating the average amount of time drivers use their phones everyday divided by the average time they drive everyday, Zendrive determined that Oregon drivers used their phones while driving 3.7 percent of the time. The most distracted state was Vermont, whose drivers used their phones 7.4 percent of the time.
[Read more…]

Oregon Senate prez wants distracted driving penalties on par with drunk driving

by on December 16th, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Distracted driver being distracted.jpg

Stop it. You’re drunk.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has been beating a steady drum all year about one very important part of their approach to traffic safety: distracted driving. Now it looks like the Oregon legislature has their back and we could see a major change to the law in the 2017 session.

According to a story in the Salem Statesmen-Journal Wednesday, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) wants to significantly ramp up the legal consequences for people caught driving while texting, talking, or using social media apps. In fact, he’s so concerned about the threat of distractions that he wants to expand Oregon’s existing cell phone law (ORS 811.507) and make the penalties commensurate with driving under the influence.

From the Statesmen-Journal:[Read more…]

State’s distracted driving campaign now includes unmarked patrol cars, task force

by on April 6th, 2016 at 9:15 am

New unmarked Oregon State Police car unveiled at a press conference in Salem yesterday.
(Photo: ODOT)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is ramping up its attack on distracted driving.
[Read more…]

Ask BikePortland: Is there a right way to confront someone who’s texting and driving?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on June 18th, 2015 at 8:58 am

She could be behind you!

What to say?
(Photo: Raymond Clarke Images)

Welcome to the latest installment of our Ask BikePortland column. Read past articles here.

BikePortland reader Kim sent us a query that will be familiar to many people on the road, no matter their vehicle.

Today on my commute I observed a driver veering into the bike lane ahead of me. As I cautiously overtook the driver, I noticed her head skewed with a downward gaze and a cellphone in her right hand, actively texting. I felt anger at this dangerous behavior and yelled (loud enough to penetrate the rolled up windows) “Don’t do that!” and motioned to put the phone down. The driver was startled and didn’t know that someone was observing her.

[Read more…]

Governor Kitzhaber, top legislators raise awareness of distracted driving

by on September 17th, 2014 at 11:09 am

Pledging to drive without distractions, from left to right: Senate Democratic Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland), Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem), AT&T Oregon President George Granger, House Democratic Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte), Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli.
(Photo: AT&T)

Distracted driving is one of the largest public health crises in America today, and Oregon is not immune to its impacts. According to ODOT crash data, 93 people died on Oregon roads between 2006 and 2011 and there were over 18,000 collisions due to distracted driving. If you like to ride a bike, this issue is of immense importance given that you ride just a few feet away from people driving multi-ton steel vehicles.

Yesterday at the state capitol in Salem, legislators attended an event to raise awareness of the issue and even Governor Kitzhaber has gotten involved by declaring this coming Friday, September 19th, “Distraction-Free Driving Day” in Oregon.[Read more…]

Thoughts on distracted driving and walking headlines

by on October 23rd, 2013 at 10:11 am

Poster from Distraction.gov campaign.

One of the things I spend time on everyday is monitoring headlines. I liken this part of my job to a military intelligence officer listening to “chatter” from satellites and other broadcast signals. It’s fascinating to watch various memes and issues go from a tiny whisper to a roar in a matter of hours. Another thing I try to watch for is how the same issue is spun in different ways.

In the past day or so, distracted driving has been on my mind (it actually never leaves my mind) and I’ve noticed several interesting headlines about it. Then this morning, a major regional transit agency put out a message about “distracted walking”. With all this chatter, I figured it was time to talk about this issue again.

In his most recent column titled, How do we curb our careless obsession with cell phones in cars? Oregonian columnist Steve Duin made it clear that he is concerned about this dangerous epidemic. In his piece, Duin points to the toothless penalties the currently exist in Oregon law for people caught using phones while driving. He also points out the vast gap in severity of punishment between drunk driving and distracted driving, event though it could be argued that, “the latter is far more hazardous to your judgment and reaction times”. Not only that, I’d add, but unfortunately distracted driving is far more common and socially accepted than drunk driving.[Read more…]