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The Safer Driver

Stricter hands-free driving state law effective Oct. 1

A new law (HB 2597) makes holding or using a mobile electronic device while driving illegal. This includes your cell phone, GPS systems, tablets, etc.—anything that you use for texting, talking, emailing, entertainment, navigating or accessing the internet. If you need to use your electronic device, you must first safely stop in a designated parking spot.

Learn more about the new law.

Top 3 causes of crashes

Aggressive driving

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Aggressive driving is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “driving actions that markedly exceed the norms of safe driving behavior and directly affect other road users by placing them in unnecessary danger.” This includes driving too fast for conditions, following too closely and driving in excess of posted speed.

Approximately 47% of all fatal and serious injury crashes – and more than 57% of all crashes -- on roads in Clackamas County are at least partially attributable to aggressive driving.

What we are doing about it: The county does its best to keep roads safe by trimming back vegetation near the roads, keeping water off the roads, establishing appropriate speed limits, and coordinating and timing traffic signals, but we can’t do it alone.

What you can do about it:

Young drivers (ages 15-25)

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Drivers age 15 to 25 are a vulnerable motorist group because of limited experience handling the tasks of operating a vehicle and applying newly-acquired driving skills, especially with the number of in-vehicle distractions (e.g., radio, GPS, cell phones, passengers).

This age group is involved in more than 40% of all fatal and serious injury crashes on roads in Clackamas County.

What we are doing about it: In the county, we do our best to keep our roads safe by maintaining signs and striping to guide young drivers, but we can’t do it alone.

What you can do about it:

Roadway departure

Roadway departure crashes are defined as non-intersection crashes that occur after a vehicle crosses an edge line or a center line, or otherwise leaves the travel way. These crashes include single vehicle, non-pedestrian and non-bicycle crashes, head-on and sideswipe crashes where vehicles are traveling in the opposite direction, and crashes involving a fixed object and only one vehicle.

Over 40% of crashes in the county involve lane departure crashes and primarily take place on rural roads.

What we are doing about it: We do our best to keep our roads safe by maintaining shoulders, fixing abrupt pavement edges, installing signs and chevrons warning people of upcoming curves, turns and intersections, and providing edge lines and centerline markings and using high-friction surface treatments.

What you can do about it:

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Here are some of the top distractions drivers face and ways you can avoid them.

There are three main types of distractions while driving:

Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive: Taking your mind off what you're doing

Driver distraction is related to 80% of crashes, and the #1 source of inattention is cell phones! Cell phone use is the most dangerous distracted driving because it involves all three of these types of distractions.

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Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent (the equivalent of about four beers). That means you shouldn't even be thinking about your cellphone when driving if you'd like to prevent an accident.

Try these tips to help avoid cellphone use while driving:

Other distracting activities include:

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