A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bad law, bigger fines

Written December 29th, 2013 by Hasso Hering
It's as though the motto on the state seal in the Capitol was "Punish Us More."

It’s as though the motto on the state seal in the Capitol was “Punish Us More.”

Oregon has a law against talking on a cell phone while driving. Because the law has been widely ignored, the legislature raised the standard fine to $160 as of Jan. 1, up $50. And the maximum will be $500. The fine could be a thousand dollars and the law would still be ignored by many people for the same reason it’s being ignored now.
The law has been widely flouted because it’s an unreasonable law that cannot possibly be fairly or even uniformly enforced. For one thing it applies only to hand-held phones, while using your Bluetooth connection or one of those things clipped to your ear is perfectly fine. How does that make any kind of sense?
It is no doubt true that talking on the phone leads to distracted driving. But so does talking to your passenger about something important. So does listening to the radio, especially when you’re trying to find a station on a long drive through the wilds of this state. So does trying to find a CD in the glove compartment when the search for a station fails. So does thinking about your boss at work, or your love life, or a thousand other things that cause you some level of either distress or delight.
And you might become totally oblivious to traffic if you become agitated about the gradual disappearance of liberty, and the degree to which the majority of citizens don’t seem to care about the loss. They see some guy cutting them off on the road while he’s holding something to his ear, and they demand a law. Or bigger fines.
Most politicians are only too eager to oblige. Anything that strengthens the hand of the state and increases revenue is OK with them. (hh)

3 responses to “Bad law, bigger fines”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Look closely at the next APD car you see passing by. These cars have a built in “blue tooth” hands free deal for talking with Hdqrs.(only) IF that officer has a cell phone to his ear, it’s a personal call so who writes him a ticket..??!!..JE

  2. Hasso Hering says:

    Christine Ruck commented on Facebook: While I would ordinarily agree that increasing a fine for something may not change behavior – this one is one we should watch. Drivers fiddling about with their phones (aka texting as well) represent a serious danger to others.
    The woman who nearly ended my life because she couldn’t concentrate on her responsibility to heed a stop sign did not have her records checked to see if that was holding her attention.
    Enforcement may be a challenge, but distracted driving is an epidemic.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    The legislature seems determined to meddle in our lives.
    What’s worse? Increasing the “severity” of existing laws or creating additional ones? I forgot, They already do both!
    Not that I really propose enacting new laws, BUT, how about a law requiring them to remove 2 laws from the books for every one they enact?
    At least it would save paper when they print the “book of laws”. It MIGHT even might make them think about the importance of the law they enact instead of responding to a knee jerk flurry of laws whenever they perceive the need.


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