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ODOT: Distracted driving isn’t just costly, but dangerous — and deadly

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – In Oregon, over the past five years, 137 people have lost their lives in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than 20,992 were injured, ODOT said Wednesday on the eve of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Perhaps the saddest part of these statistics, besides there being real people behind them, is that these are preventable crashes.

“When you are behind the wheel, you have one job – to focus on driving safely,” said Kelly Kapri, Oregon’s Distracted Driving Program manager. “If you allow things to distract you, you could lose your life, the life of someone you love or cause another death or serious injury. It’s just not worth it.”

These kinds of tragedies are occurring all over the state, so ODOT partners with law enforcement year round for focused enforcement for the law, but especially this October, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

During October, a national and statewide public education and enforcement campaign will run to remind everyone who uses the transportation system to focus on safety and not allow anything to distract you.

Safety advocates hope that drivers will realize that distractions, such as using a phone, can hurt in more ways than one.

From 2014 – 2018, there were 18 people killed and 1,752 suffered serious injuries from crashes where a driver was distracted by using a cell phone. Is that text or call really worth it?

In Oregon, distracted driving costs include not only the potential loss of life or injury, but can hurt the pocketbook as well:

  • First offense, not contributing to a crash: Class B violation; Fine up to $1,000.
  • Second offense – or first offense if it contributed to a crash: Class A violation; Fine up to $2,000.
  • Third offense in ten years: Class B misdemeanor; Fine up to $2,500; Could be up to six months in jail.

See ODOT's 2020 Fact Sheet for more about distracted driving.

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