A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

The flaws in the cell phone ban

Written June 30th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Taking shots like this would be illegal with a phone, but OK with an old-fashioned camera.

Albany Rep. Andy Olson’s bill against distracted driving caused by cell phone use has been much amended and now has cleared the Senate. But it still has one problem: It makes no sense.

Republicans in the Senate tried to send HB 2597 back to committee but didn’t have the votes. So on Thursday, the Senate passed the amended version, 21-8. If the House goes along with the amendments, we’ll end up with a law that makes harmless actions illegal and yet is unlikely to reduce distracted driving much, if at all.

Under the bill as passed by the Senate, drivers commit an offense if they use a “mobile electronic device” for any purpose at all, even if they just hold it in one hand. Strangely, though, the prohibition does not apply to a person who touches the device to turn it on or off. Or to one who operates a two-way radio.

So you’d be violating the law if you pick up your phone to keep it from falling off the center console tray when you have to brake. But if your phone stored in the glove compartment keeps on ringing, it would NOT be illegal to lean across, rummage around till you found it, and then turn it off.

It would be a violation to glance at a map on the screen of your hand-held phone while you’re stopped at a red light. But it would NOT be against the law to unfold a map, spread it out on the steering wheel and try to get your bearings that way.

And if you saw something worth recording while driving along, you could reach for your old Nikon, point it out the window and shoot some frames. But if you did the same with your phone, with much less trouble or distraction, that would be against the law.

Everybody understands the problems that distracted drivers can cause. But why create yet another law that encourages the police to write potentially expensive tickets for just holding a phone in your hand? (hh)



12 responses to “The flaws in the cell phone ban”

  1. Jon Stratton says:

    So, someone with more money than me just needs to sue the state for violation of the fourth amendment. A law which makes no sense, that in effect seizes a person’s belonging (by making it useless) without compensation, would be unconstitutional. The arguments you make show how senseless it is. Also, cell phones are two way radios; they just have a means of isolating the recipient(s) of the transmission. What is the fascination with making new laws, anyway? Enforce the ones we have. If you’re driving distracted, you’re going too fast for conditions and in violation of the Basic Rule.

  2. John Hartman says:

    I’m with you Hasso. The citizenry has grown soft. Whining babies demanding pablum in various forms. Placing ridiculous demands on government to satisfy left-leaning angst.

    Back in the good old days, things were different. Men were men. Women were unseen, unheard. Homosexuality was a criminal offense. You remember those days, don’t ya?

    The iPhone phenomenon is simply self-infatuation at hyper speed. Given the level of distraction Americans deaire it can be no wonder as to why we now have a prevaricating nincompoop in the White House. Trump is, apparently, perfect for our times.

    So, yes, Hasso Hering. Given the era we live in, that the Legislature would pass this tortured legislation proves the point – absurdity cares little for reality and These United States are serenely disconnected.

    • hj.anony1 says:


      A couple edits though.

      Delightfully easy to substitute “right-WING angst” for left-leaning.
      And change “serenely disconnected” for SEVERELY disconnected.

      Carry on.

  3. Sid Cooper says:

    Meanwhile, people still don’t see the light turn green because they are looking at their phones. And, Hasso, it’s been since around 2007 since this problem started. Lotsa accumulated data points on bad driving. I think my favorite is the one handed left turn that understeers into the path of oncoming left laners, eating stripes off of intersections, adding to worsening road conditions that are universally accepted as the new way of driving.. All so we can try and hear that tinny speaker over the 75 db of cab noise with the window rolled down. Makes me want to put my headphones back on, crank up the beat and run over someone in a crosswalk.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      You know what I saw on the past friday. Someone drove past my home, eating a bowl of cereal. Yeah! Thank goodness s/he was driving slowly. Still….

      I shook my head.

      • Sidney Cooper says:

        I’ve seen that, too. Guys shaving, gals putting on mascara. But you know why I think phones are the worst? Remember a phone conversation while you were doing something else. Were you able to talk, and think and do that other thing? I started watching people talk and drive while I was in the car with them. Didn’t like what I saw. Didn’t like it when I tried it, either. Saw my drivers ed teacher about to smack me with a ruler…and that’s when I woke up.

  4. John Hartman says:

    This so-called “law” is akin to Trump’s phony election investigation. All the GOP is attempting to do is repress the vote. Trump and Pence are verging on anti-American and need to be impeached. Between the state ginning-up confusing cell phone distraction bills and the Trump administration continually failing at most things it attempts, one wonders if America stands a chance.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Nothing is going to pass in this legislature unless the DEMOCRATS want it.
      Trump has nothing to do with it.

      • hj.anony1 says:

        OH “Bill Kapaun” the reThugs are in complete control by holding all the cards, controlling the agenda …for now.

        Notice I put your “name” in quotes?

        • Terry says:

          Some people will go the great lengths to take swipes at ‘the other party” !
          My only question is what does it have to do with this flawed legislation?
          Stick to the subject!

  5. James Engel says:

    While those elected again & again politicians are wringing their hands over a cell phone bill another important matter gets washed out. Oregon will be #1 with the lamest laws/regulations dealing with R/R oil transportation! A tougher bill was sent back to die slowly after squabbling over regulations & language & if public view or not! Look out Mosier & any point along that R/R line!!

  6. centrist says:

    Copied from redmondnewstoday
    “A deadly toll of traffic deaths just keeps climbing in Oregon. And the Redmond-Bend area has been tragically contributing to the tally. Law enforcement is again reminding everyone that drunk driving (DUII), texting while driving (TWD), talking to everyone in the car while driving (DWTTEITC) is heading down the fast lane to an early funeral.”


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