Fines for texting while driving set to increase next year in Oregon

In an effort to make Oregon roads safer, state lawmakers recently passed a bill that will increase the fines levied upon all motorists who are caught texting while behind the wheel. In fact, now that Governor John Kitzhaber has signed the bill, fines for violators of Oregon’s texting-while-driving ban will rise to $160 once the new law takes effect on January 1, 2014.

While this recent fine increase is significantly smaller than what some Oregon lawmakers wanted – one bill sought to boost texting-while-driving fines to a maximum of $2,000 – it is nonetheless a significant sign that legislators are making efforts to eradicate distracted driving accidents on Oregon roadways.

Texting-while-driving laws in Oregon

Under current Oregon law, drivers are prohibited from using mobile communications devices – such as cellphones – to text or talk while operating motor vehicles. However, drivers over the age of 18-years-old are permitted to talk on cellphones while driving as long as they are using their phones in a “hands-free” manner.

Drivers who violate Oregon’s texting-while-driving law currently face a Class D traffic offense, which has a fine of $110. However, once the recently passed Oregon bill goes into effect next year, texting while driving will be considered a Class C traffic offense – hence the fine increase to $160, with a maximum fine of $500.

Interestingly, the new law also calls on the Oregon Department of Transportation to educate the public by posting signs on state highways notifying drivers that those who violate the texting-while-driving ban may be subject to the $500 maximum fine.

Prevalence of texting while driving

Although it remains to be seen how the recent fine increase will impact road safety in Oregon, it is still an important first step at keeping drivers’ eyes on the road and eliminating the widespread practice of texting while driving.

Sadly, many people are simply unaware of how bad the problem of texting while driving has become. For instance, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report from earlier this year, at any given daylight moment, an astounding 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel on U.S. roadways.

Unfortunately, as these numbers imply, some drivers will likely continue to text while behind the wheel despite the dangers or the laws prohibiting it. Consequently, if a driver distracted by his or her cellphone has injured you or a loved one, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced car accident injury attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and help explain all of your available options and rights.