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Oregon House Votes To Ban Use Of All Handheld Electronic Devices While Driving

A proposal in the Oregon Legislature would make it illegal to use -- or even hold -- any mobile electronic devices while driving.
Kevin Mooney
/
Northwest News Network
A proposal in the Oregon Legislature would make it illegal to use -- or even hold -- any mobile electronic devices while driving.

Oregon lawmakers are one step closer to banning the use of all handheld electronic devices while driving.

The Oregon House approved a measure Monday that would clarify that the state's ban on cell phone use while driving applies to all functions of a smart phone, not just texting and talking.

Republican Rep. Carl Wilson of Grants Pass said he sees people multi-tasking behind the wheel all the time. 


"I can't tell you how many times I will pull up to an intersection and see the person to the right of me on their phone and the person to the left of me on their phone.,” Wilson said. “And I presume that the person coming up behind me is also on their phone. It is just an amazing situation." 


Opponents said the measure would do little to stop the problem of distracted driving. 


"I feel as if we're focused on one segment of distracted driving," said Rep. Greg Smith, a Republican from Heppner. "As a father of five kids, I think of all the times I've been distracted. Not just by a cell phone, but by that darn soda that's spilled over in the car, or the soccer ball that came flying up from the back seat."

The measure passed 46-13 and now heads to the Oregon Senate. 


Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.