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New Oregon hands-free driving law is almost here

Warning: Don't even set your phone in your lap

Handsfree driving law takes effect soon

BEND, Ore. - In less than three weeks, a new law will go into effect that hopes to curb the effects of distracted driving in Oregon.

In particular, using a cellphone while driving.

Lance Fine admits to using his phone while driving, and admits that he shouldn't do it. 

"I think I'm a dangerous driver when I'm on my phone, actually. Even in dangerous situations, we choose to do it out of convenience and I'm guilty of that as well," Fine said Monday.

Starting on Oct. 1, other than a one-touch or swipe to turn something on or off, drivers will not be allowed to touch a mobile electronic device -- or even keep it in their lap. 

Greg Owens is a driver's ed instructor and says distracted driving is a major focus of his curriculum.

"The average driver, when he looks at his cellphone, takes his eyes off the roadway for a minimum of five seconds. Imagine closing your eyes while driving down the road at 40 to 50 to 60 miles an hour," Owens said.

Even if you touch your phone while stopped at an intersection, you could still be hit with a fine of up to $1,000.

A second violation could mean a $2,500 fine, and a third ticket could mean jail time.

Owens said people are used to not getting in trouble.

"There's no negative impact. You drive over the speed limit a hundred times and there's no negative impact -- until it happens. And that's the same with cell phones," Owens said.

Drivers, including Mike Bodell of Bend, said it's happening all the time. 

"I think that a lot of distracted drivers out there are looking at their phones, texting or doing a web search, or even fumbling around trying to make a phone call," he said. "And I think we have more accidents because of it."

Since 2013, Oregon has seen a 58 percent increase in driving deaths.

There are exceptions to the law. Police officers and emergency workers as well as anyone calling 911 will remain exempt.

Also, two-way radios can be used by school bus drivers, utility or forest-product workers.

This is also the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll: Which distracted-driving behaviors do you do the most? Using a non-hands-free phone, texting, taking photos or videos -- all of the above or none of the above? Find our poll halfway down the right side of our home page.


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