As of Jan. 1, drivers can be fined for talking on a cell phone
Several new laws going into effect on Jan. 1 are aimed at making roads safer for travelers of all kinds: pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and passengers. Here’s an overview of several specific laws:
Move over law — The move over law requires a motorist to move over to another lane if there is an emergency vehicle on the shoulder with its lights flashing. If you cannot move over safely (for example, there is a big truck in the next lane or it’s a two-lane road), you are required to slow down. For 2010, the law has added two types of vehicles to the list of “emergency vehicles” requiring motorists to move over or slow down: 1) roadside assistance vehicles; and 2) tow trucks. In addition, the law clarifies that “slow down” means slowing down to at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit.
Cell phone use — A new law bans using mobile communications devices while driving unless you are using a hands-free device (drivers under 18 are banned from using any kind of mobile communications device whether it is hands free or not). The law is intended to improve safety on Oregon roads by discouraging distracted driving. There are some exceptions to the ban, such as for those using a mobile communications device while driving if the vehicle is necessary for the person’s job, or for emergencies. In general, however, drivers should stay focused on the driving task and avoid distractions of any kind.
Motorcycle endorsement — The new law increases the penalty for riding a motorcycle without a motorcycle endorsement from a Class B ($360) to a Class A ($720) violation. The law also requires a court to suspend the fine for the violation if the rider completes training and receives a motorcycle endorsement within 120 days of sentencing. For information on how to get a motorcycle endorsement, visit the DMV Web site, www.oregondmv.com. For information on Oregon’s approved motorcycle rider education courses, visit the TEAM Oregon Web site, www.team-oregon.org.
Motorcycle training — The new law phases in the requirement that all new motorcycle riders complete an ODOT-approved motorcycle safety course before they can be issued a motorcycle endorsement by DMV. Beginning Jan 1, 2011, all new motorcycle riders under the age of 31 must complete the TEAM Oregon basic rider training course as part of the endorsement process unless they have a valid motorcycle-endorsed license from another state. The knowledge test and on-cycle drive test option, as well as the intermediate rider course and knowledge test option, will not be available to riders under age 31.