The next time you’re stopped in traffic, take a look at the drivers around you. No matter what Oregon city or town you’re in, you’re likely to see at least one driver – if not more – on his or her cell phone. Adult drivers in Oregon are required to use hands-free devices to talk on phones while driving, and teen drivers are prohibited from talking and driving at all, hands-free device or no. Still, the 2010 law (updated in 2012 to close a loophole that allowed work-related calls) and the $110 fine for offenders hardly seems to be enough of a deterrent for many drivers. In a November 2011 survey conducted by Pemco Insurance, 1 in 3 Portland, Oregon drivers admitted to texting or using a handheld cell phone while driving. According to Oregon Department of Transportation statistics, car accidents involving cell phones injured 179 people and killed 4 people. Are there really any phone calls or texts that are a matter of life and death?
Unfortunate cases abound where innocent pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers have been killed or seriously injured by drivers using their cell phones. In 2011, in Bend, Oregon, a 16-year old bicyclist was killed by a young man who was texting his girlfriend while driving, a case made even worse because she was sitting in the passenger seat. In a 2011 Portland, Oregon accident, a driver talking on her cell phone collided head-on with a car carrying two other women and a baby. All were injured and had to seek medical attention. Portland, Oregon riders of public transportation have even had occasion to complain about TriMet drivers being distracted by cell phone use while driving, a serious public safety hazard.
The legal charges for drivers at-fault for fatal accidents include careless driving resulting in the death of a vulnerable road user (a bicyclist or pedestrian, for example) and reckless driving, if the accident also involves a traffic violation, such as running a red light. Consequences of conviction under these charges include fines and jail time. In non-fatal accidents involving cell phones, drivers are usually cited for traffic violations or for cell phone use, both of which cost the driver a fine. Ironically, for those who have been injured in a crash caused by a cell phone-using driver, the costs can be much steeper, including months of medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you have been injured in an auto accident where the at-fault driver was using a cell phone or if you have lost a loved one in such an accident, we can help you get the settlement you deserve from the insurance company to help you pay medical expenses, recover lost wages, and get compensation for pain and suffering. One of our expert Personal Injury Attorneys will be happy to discuss your Oregon Personal Injury case with you. Call us now: 541-617-0555