I could not let the month end without taking note of the fact that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so designated by the US National Safety Council.
As The Oregonian and other local media have noted, police and other law enforcement officials are marking the month with stepped-up efforts at both enforcement of the state’s two-year-old distracted driving law, and at education. The paper reports that last year the “state police pulled over 3,782 drivers suspected of texting or talking on a handheld cell phone, a 7 percent increase over 2010.” It further notes that the OSP issued over 1,400 tickets and 2,350 warnings.
It’s also worth noting that this month Idaho and West Virginia became the latest states to outlaw texting while driving. That brings the total number of states banning the practice to 37, according to the ‘Family Car Guide’ website.
Oregon distracted driving is a problem that will not go away simply because a law has been passed. That is why events like National Distracted Driving Awareness Month are so important: ultimately, getting people off their phones and getting their attention focused on the road will involve breaking bad habits and forming new, safer, ones. Enforcement alone will not solve the problem (though it certainly helps).
From a Portland distracted driving attorney’s perspective, any reminder of the importance of this law is a good thing. It is especially important to remember that distracted driving education should not be confined to teens. The National Safety Council offers employers a useful “Cell Phone Policy Kit” to help managers understand the risks Oregon distracted driving poses to their staff, and to devise ways to help curtail it.
Family Car Guide: Idaho, West Virginia add tough driver anti-texting laws