Oregon Law: Calls for Work While Driving Prohibited
Calls While Driving No Longer Allowed - Even for WorkOregon legislators have moved to close loopholes in previous laws that allowed motorists to use cellphones for work purposes while driving. In May, 2011, HB3186 was passed by a vote of 39 to 17,now making it illegal for all drivers on Oregon roads to use cell phones unless they are summoningemergency help, such as police, firefighters, an ambulance or a tow truck. The new law came intoeffect on January 1, 2012, and this follows new federal legislation which recently introduced a banon commercial truck drivers using cell phones. Portland truck accident attorneys point out that in75% of truck vs. car/SUV/pickup truck accidents, it’s the actions of the four-wheel driver that havebeen deemed to cause the accident. This fact, among others, has led to mixed reviews from bothdrivers and lawmakers to Oregon’s HB3186.“I think we’d be chasing our tails to oblivion trying to outlaw stupid.”That was the opinion of Oregon Rep. Kim Thatcher, who pointed out that other states still allow theuse of cell phones while driving, and she couldn’t find any data to show texting bans have reducedtraffic accident levels anywhere. Under HB3186, texting is completely banned for all drivers in anysituation. Other legislators felt the bill was an unnecessary addition to laws that already make it anoffense to drive while distracted. “I do not believe that we’ll ever get this problem solved other thanto get people to be responsible for their own actions,” said Rep. Tim Freeman.There were also vast differences in how professional truck drivers feel about the ban on cell phones .While the law has been widely accepted in trucking circles, there’s a certain element of “what aboutthe other guys?” One professional truck driver wrote to an industry forum and said he was fed upwith hearing that the “feds” can’t do anything with the “four-wheelers” (drivers of cars, SUV’s andpickup trucks). The trucker went on to say, “If they’re gonna travel the same roads I do, they canfollow the same laws.”Now that HB3186 is in effect, the fact is that all Oregon road users are banned from using cellphones. Other states have followed suit, but not many. Less than a dozen states have put a completeban on cell phone use. Even then, however, the law seems to favor private motorists as opposed tocommercial truckers. In California, for example, a four-wheel motorist can receive a fine as low as$20 plus fees for using a cell phone while driving. In contrast, truckers face fines of up to $2,750 foreach offense. Portland truck accident attorneys understand that a distracted truck driver has thepotential to do incredible damage, but recognize that private motorists also have their part to play inkeeping roads safe.Who’s going to enforce the new laws?The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made the rule regarding the prohibition for truckdrivers, but they don’t actually have any officers out on the roads, spotting the rule breakers andwriting tickets. They rely, therefore, on local and state agencies to enforce the laws. The problemwith that policy is the large number of states that have no law prohibiting cell phone use. Some, likeMissouri, have given notice they will be implementing the federal ban on truckers using cell phoneson their roads.While the new laws apply to everyone in Oregon, the federal laws aren’t as comprehensive. Smallercommercial trucks used for delivery, for example, would be exempt from the national ban on cell
phone use. The federal legislation is aimed at large trucks involved in interstate commerce, andthose hauling hazardous materials.CB and hands freeSome drivers found it both interesting and ironic that there’s nothing in the new laws, includingOregon’s HB3186, which bans the use of CB radios. One professional driver said, “The CB is waymore distracting (and) annoying than a cell phone.” Truck drivers feel that because there is no wayof recording whether or not a CB was being used to make or receive a call when an accidentoccurred, unlike cell phones, it simply wouldn’t be feasible to create or enforce legislation againsttheir use.Portland truck accident attorneys have seen the damage done to property and people by driverswho have been distracted while talking on a cell phone. Opinion is divided on whether or not handsfree devices are the answer, as studies seem to point out that even these will not prevent a driverfrom losing some level of concentration on what’s happening around him. Nevertheless, it’s believedin-dash technology on both trucks and cars will soon develop to the point where all new vehicles willbe set up for drivers to make and receive calls without taking their hands off the wheel.The trucking industry is already heavily legislated, and most professional drivers feel safety is theabsolute bottom line. The American Trucking Association has welcomed the national ban on truckdrivers using cell phones, and in Oregon, HB3186 has made it illegal for anyone to talk or text whiledriving. There’s no question, however, that “stupid” just can’t be outlawed, and as long as that’s thecase, accidents will happen and people will get hurt. If you have been injured by a truck driver,whether or not he or she was on a cell phone, it’s important that you contact a specialist team ofPortland truck accident attorneys, who will protect your interests and deal with the trucking firm’sinsurance company. Choose a firm which has experience of this type of accident, who will guide youthrough the process step by step.