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The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Oregon


Distracted driving is a dangerous but all too common habit of many drivers. As technology develops, we have more and more distractions at our fingertips, even while driving. Distracted driving and the serious injuries it can cause are on the rise everywhere, including in Oregon.

If you’re involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact a distracted driving accident attorney with experience handling cases in Oregon. The distracted driving lawyers at SLP are happy to help.


Distracted Driving Poses Serious Roadway Threat

Contacting a distracted driving accident lawyer will soon become more common as distracted drivers continue to cause collisions and resulting injuries.

As Serious As Impaired Driving

Everyone understands the dangers of drunk driving. Fewer people know that distracted driving can be just as dangerous, sometimes more. While intoxicated or impaired driving may slow a driver’s response time, a distraction can cause them to entirely miss whatever they need to respond to.

Distractions Make Work Zone Accidents 29 Times More Likely

Distracted driving is particularly dangerous in work zones. It raises the likelihood of work zone accidents by 29 times.

You can easily imagine how this happens. Work zones can sneak up on drivers, and they contain a lot of unusual hazards that aren’t always present on a regular roadway. A distracted driver could miss any of these hazards and run into them without even seeing them. This presents an enormous danger to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bikers, and especially the workers in the designated work zone.  

What could distract a driver into such a dangerous predicament?

Distractions That May Cause A Collision

  • Browsing the web with an electronic device
  • Adjusting temperature controls in the vehicle
  • Eating or drinking
  • Pets
  • Applying makeup
  • Reaching for something on the floor or in the backseat
  • Shaving
  • Smoking
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Talking with passengers
  • Texting
  • Using maps or navigation systems
  • Watching another accident
  • Watching videos
  • Wiping the inside of the windshield


Examining The Different Types Of Driving Distractions

We can break down almost all driving distractions into three basic categories. Each type creates danger for the driver and those around them differently. The different types of distractions are laid out as follows.


Manual Distractions

Manual distractions include anything that requires the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel. Drivers manipulating secondary car systems, like the heating, cooling, or stereo, often leads to distracted driving.


Visual Distractions

Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off the road. They can include visual stimuli from inside and outside the car. Drivers often get distracted watching pedestrians or other accidents. 


Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions include anything that takes a driver’s mind away from their task. Even a hands-free phone conversation can be a cognitive distraction. These types of distractions are each dangerous on their own, but the danger multiplies with activities that cause multiple types of distractions simultaneously. For example, texting while driving, which has led to a rise in distracted driving collisions, creates all three types of distractions. Typing a text takes at least one hand off the wheel, and reading the response takes your eyes off the road. They both require you to think about the messages instead of staying engaged mentally in the act of driving.


The elevated danger of texting while driving is a big reason Oregon lawmakers passed distracted driver legislation to help make our roads safer.


Oregon’s Distracted Driving Laws Aim to Make Roads Safer

The state passed the Oregon distracted driving bill to discourage Oregon residents from driving while distracted. This law imparts fines and prison time in increasing severity as a deterrent.


According to distracted driving laws in Oregon, the punishments for distracted driving step up as follows:


  • A first distracted driving offense not involving a collision can result in fines as high as $1,000.
  • A second offense or a first offense that results in an accident can lead to fines as high as $2,000.
  • Drivers caught for a third time face the possibility of up to 10 years in prison.


Oregon’s fines and punishments may help deter distracted driving, but they can’t prevent it entirely. Occasionally, distracted drivers will still cause motor vehicle accidents and the injuries that come from them.


Stay alert on the roads. If you end up in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact a distracted driving attorney with experience navigating the legal system in Oregon. Our distracted driving lawyers at Swanson, Lathen, and Prestwich will be happy to help you with your case.


How The Multitasking Myth Puts You At Risk On The Road

One reason distracted driving persists to such a degree is because of drivers’ belief in the myth of multitasking. Simply put, multitasking at the wheel is the definition of distracted driving.


The human brain cannot focus on two things simultaneously.

Neuroscience research discovered that while the extremely rare person who can successfully multitask exists, the vast majority of people can’t. Sure, people can do multiple things simultaneously, but studies show that human brains aren’t really multitasking. They’re switch-tasking. They’re quickly switching from task to task. The switching slows mental functions while also causing people to make more mistakes and fatigue faster. 


Multitasking at the wheel is a common but dangerous mistake.

Stop multitasking while driving. That means no eating, grooming, or talking while driving. And it especially means no texting while driving! Every task you add makes your driving worse.


How Drowsiness Affects Drivers

Drowsy driving is its own kind of distracted driving. Sometimes, it’s as dangerous as drunk driving, and the results can be devastating.


According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers cause about 328,000 auto accidents yearly, resulting in 109,000 injuries and 6,400 deaths. Many accidents occur from mistakes by drivers of commercial vehicles working long hours.


Sleep deprivation can impair a person’s judgment and motor skills, like alcohol. Going 20 hours straight without sleep can cause the same level of impairment as having a blood alcohol level at Oregon’s legal limit of .08.


Adding to the danger, severe drowsiness can also lead to microsleep. During microsleep, a person can remain upright and functioning, but their brain goes to sleep for little, four- or five-second bursts. During those brain blackout bursts, a person experiencing microsleep won’t process what they are seeing or doing.


If a person experiences microsleep while driving at highway speeds, they could travel the length of an entire football field during one of those five-second blackouts and not be aware of any of it. If something was in the road at that time or if the drowsy driver drifts off the road, the results will likely be a collision of some kind.


Don’t underestimate the dangers of drowsy driving.


What’s The Number One Thing You Can Do To Be Safer On The Road? 

You can take several steps to help yourself refrain from distracted driving. Don’t fiddle with settings in your car, including the radio and air conditioning. Keep your eyes and ears on the road at all times. Keep both hands on the steering wheel except when turning. But one thing can make a more significant difference to your safety than anything.


Put your phone down!

Today’s smartphones provide an endless supply of potential distractions for drivers. Browsing social media, updating your status, texting, searching for music, and even looking at maps distracts your attention from the road.


Turn your phone to “driving mode” before your trip. Use voice directions for navigation to keep your eyes on the road. If you don’t need navigation help, the best option is to turn your phone off while driving.


Handle all your social media and messaging before or after your time behind the wheel. If you must take a call or send a text message, safely pull to the side of the road before doing so.


Take Action After A Crash

If you or a loved one were involved in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver in Oregon, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, time lost from work, or other pain and suffering caused by the accident. Claim all the compensation you deserve with help from distracted driving accident attorneys experienced in Oregon law.


The personal injury law firm of Swanson, Lathen, Prestwich PC knows how to piece together your case’s evidence to identify all the damages you should claim. They will also help pinpoint the party or parties responsible for the accident and put together the case that shows they are liable. SLP Law will fight for you from the first consultation to the final outcome of your case and guide you through every step in between.

If you’ve been involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident caused by distracted driving, contact Swanson Lathen Prestwich, Oregon’s top choice for a distracted driving attorney.